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

Plastic Bag Ban Bill Passes Key Vote

California is a step closer to banning single-use plastic bags statewide thanks to the leadership of Assemblymember Mike Gatto and Senators Alex Padilla, Kevin de León, and Ricardo Lara. The bill, SB 270 cleared a key vote in Assemblymember Gatto’s Appropriations Committee, the last hurdle before reaching a floor vote by the full Assembly. SB 270 will ban single-use plastic bags in grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and food marts.  

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News Release | Environment California

California Assembly bans plastic bags

The California Assembly voted to approve a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. The bill, SB 270, would phase out such bags in grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores beginning July 2015. Senators Alex Padilla, Kevin de León, and Ricardo Lara are sponsoring the measure, which now returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote. At time of writing, the vote count was 44-29, with add-ons possible.

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News Release | Environment California

A Sea Change in Sacramento’s Support for Coastal Protection

Sacramento- With his signature on today’s state budget, Governor Brown signaled a “Sea Change” in Sacramento on coastal protection say environmental leaders.    The new funding and authority granted to the California Coastal Commission include:

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News Release | Environment California

President Obama Proposes to Create World’s Largest Marine Sanctuary in the Pacific

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Obama administration proposed to create the world’s largest marine sanctuary by expanding the existing Pacific Remote Islands National Monument.

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News Release | Environment California

Chico Makes Plastic Bag Ban Official

Chico —The City Council has approved a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. The ordinance, which applies to large grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, will take effect January 1, 2015. Convenience stores have until 2016 to comply. Mayor Scott Guendl and Councilmembers Randall Stone, Mary Goloff, Tami Ritter, and Ann Schwab approved the measure.

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