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

Chico City Council orders plastic bag ordinance

Chico, CA – The City Council voted 5-2 to draft an ordinance to control plastic bag pollution in Chico. Mayor Mary Goloff, Vice-Mayor Scott Gruendl, and Councilmembers Ann Schwab, Randall Stone, and Tami Ritter voted in favor, with Councilmembers Sean Morgan and Mark Sorensen opposed. The vote came after lively public comment in which several Chico residents spoke out in support of a plastic bag ban.

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News Release | Environment California

Environment California Applauds President Obama’s Decision to Double Northern California Marine Sanctuaries

Today President Obama and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) initiated the doubling of two northern California marine sanctuaries. The expansion area, which stretches across nearly 2,800 square miles from Bodega Bay to Point Arena and out to sea, will protect critical habitat for hundreds of aquatic species, including endangered salmon and sea lions, and prohibit oil and gas exploration.

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News Release | Environment California

Capitola Bans Plastic Bags

The City Council voted unanimously tonight to bar retail stores from distributing single-use plastic bags within city limits. “This important step forward for Capitola shows once again that local communities can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health,” said Nathan Weaver of Environment California.

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News Release | Environment California

Legislature Misses Opportunity to Pass Ocean Protection Bill

Sacramento, CA - In the final day of the legislative session, the State Senate failed to act on AB 298 (Brownley), a bill to ban single-use plastic bags statewide. This bill would have been a major step forward in protecting the Pacific Ocean from plastic pollution.

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