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

News Release | Environment California

Landmark plastic waste legislation advances out of committee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California’s Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act (SB 54), introduced by Sen. Ben Allen of Santa Monica, passed the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday with a 9-0-2 vote. This landmark anti-plastic pollution legislation mandates a first-in-the-nation reduction in single-use foodware and packaging, requires single-use items to actually be recyclable or compostable by 2032 and holds producers financially responsible for the plastic they generate.

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News Release | Environment America

U.S. Interior Department to phase out sale of single-use plastic products in parks, public lands

WASHINGTON --- Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland issued an order on Wednesday, World Oceans Day, to phase out single-use plastic products on lands managed by the Department of the Interior by 2032. The order is intended to reduce -- and eventually eliminate -- plastic and polystyrene food and beverage containers, bottles, straws, cups, cutlery and disposable plastic bags at national parks and on other public lands.

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News Release | Environment California

Statement: California Assembly approves bill to tackle wasteful plastic packaging from online shopping

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -The California State Assembly passed legislation (AB 2026) with a 41-26 vote Thursday evening to reduce the unnecessary use of plastic packaging in online shopping. If approved by the California Senate and signed by the Governor, this would be a first in the nation law aimed at limiting single-use plastic waste generated from online shopping. 

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News Release | Environment California

Statement: California Attorney General announces investigation into plastic producers for role in causing global plastic crisis

LOS ANGELES – California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced on Thursday an investigation into the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries for their alleged role in causing and exacerbating the global plastics pollution crisis.

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Blog Post

A 'unified message of hope' on California Ocean Day | John Stout

Ten years after California began protecting marine areas, hundreds of concerned citizens shared in a message of hope for the Golden State's iconic ocean waters.

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