Trash is killing ocean wildlife

Californians throw away 123,000 tons of plastic bags each year, and too many of them end up as litter in our ocean. Today, there are 100 million tons of trash in the North Pacific Gyre; in some parts of the Pacific, plastic outweighs plankton 6 to 1.

All of this trash in the Pacific is creating an ecological disaster:

  • Turtles and seabirds frequently ingest floating plastic, mistaking it for food. They also get entangled in bags and often drown or die of suffocation.
  • Adult seabirds inadvertently feed small bits of plastic to their chicks — often causing them to starve to death after their stomachs become filled with plastic.
  • Toxic pollutants leach from the plastic into the water. Scientists are now studying whether fish and other marine animals absorb these toxic pollutants. If so, there is a good chance that we also absorb them when we eat fish.

What’s really scary is that scientists tell us this plastic may never biodegrade. And every day we go without tackling this problem, it becomes a little bit worse.

We can stop the waste

Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our oceans for hundreds of years. Californians know this, and are taking action to protect the Pacific.

We’ve made great progress winning local bans and educating the public on the harmful effects of plastic. Today, bags are banned (or soon will be) in more than 100 California communities — and now 1 in 3 Californians are living bag-free. It's a great start, but we’re not stopping until we rid the whole state of plastic bag pollution.

Let's ban the bags statewide!

With more cities banning bags each month, we have the momentum. With your help, we can win an historic victory for our ocean — a statewide ban on plastic bags.

Member support makes it possible for our staff to do research, make our case to the media, reach out to critical constituencies, and help government officials make the right choices for our ocean.

Oceans updates

Blog Post

California puts wildlife over waste with two laws on plastics

California’s coasts are about to get a little cleaner. On Sept. 20, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law two Environment California-backed bills to reduce plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean. The first puts in place a “straws on request” policy for dine-in restaurants; the second requires state facilities to recycle food packaging.

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News Release | Environment California

California “Straws on Request” Bill to Reduce Plastic Pollution Passes Out of State Senate

AB 1884 (Calderon/Bloom), which calls upon dine-in, full service restaurants to give customers plastic straws only upon request, passed the State Senate on Monday with a 25-15 vote. The bill heads back to the Assembly for a concurrence vote, where is expected to pass, before heading to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. 

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News Release | Environment California

“Straws on Request” bill to reduce Pacific plastic pollution passes Assembly floor

AB 1884 (Calderon/Bloom), which calls upon dine-in, full service restaurants to only give customers straws upon request, passed the State Assembly by a 45 to 17 margin with 16 “not voting” (this may change as legislators may add on their support).

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News Release | Environment California

New Ballot Measure Threatens California’s Coast and Ocean.

Sacramento, CA- The California Secretary of State has just certified a ballot measure to repeal the California ban on single use plastic bags (SB 270). Out-of-state single use plastic bag companies paid over $3 million dollars 98% from out of state to repeal the popular law.

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