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

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Update: City of Alameda remains opted-in for bag ban ordinance

The city staff removed the item from the agenda for 2/21 that means that by default, the city is opting in to the ordinance.

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Alameda City to discuss opting-out of bag ban ordinance

The Alameda City Council has an item on their 2/21 agenda to discuss opting-out of the countywide plastic bag ban.

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Report | Environment California Research & Policy Center

Leading the Way Toward a Cleaner Ocean

Out in the Pacific Ocean, plastic debris churns in a soup called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – an area twice the size of Texas where plastic bits outweigh plankton. Plastic pollution persists for hundreds of years, and can kill turtles, seabirds and other marine animals.
Throw-away plastic bags are a significant part of the problem. To reduce ocean pollution and protect the environment, more than 80 national and local governments across the planet have taken official action to ban throw-away plastic bags or to establish fees or taxes on such bags.

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Plastic Bag Ban Advances In Pasadena

Pasadena officials have moved forward with a plastic bag ban that will require grocers, convenience stores and vendors to stop offering plastic bags and to charge 10 cents for paper bags.

Officials have unanimously approved a recommendation that an ordinance be drafted within 60 days; then the City Council will vote.

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San Francisco Bag Ban Includes Paper Charge

The question "paper or plastic" is already more or less a moot point in San Francisco -- the 2007 passage of a partial ban on plastic bags in the city saw to that.

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