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 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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News Release | Environment California

Statewide plastic bag ban moves forward

Sacramento – California is a step closer to banning single-use plastic bags statewide. The Assembly Natural Resources Committee voted this morning to approve SB 270, moving the legislation closer to a final vote on the Assembly floor later this session. Introduced by Senator Alex Padilla, Kevin de León, and Ricardo Lara, 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 Research & Policy Center

Legislators Thank Governor for Marine Protected Area Leadership

Sacramento – As California families begin to plan summer trips to the beach, 29 California legislators released a letter thanking Governor Brown for his leadership to conserve California’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Nathan Weaver, Oceans Advocate with Environment California, issued the following statement:

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News Release | Environment California

Plastic bag manufacturer rallies against plastic bag ban

Sacramento — Joined by their lobbyists and allies, a score of representatives from a California plastic bag manufacturer rallied on the Capitol steps to oppose a statewide plastic bag ban. Despite this industry opposition, the bill, SB 270 (Padilla, de León, and Lara), has won the support of numerous environmental organizations, the California Grocers Association, the California Retailers Association, labor, reusable bag manufacturers, the City of Los Angeles, and communities around California. Nathan Weaver, Oceans Advocate with Environment California issued a response to the plastics industry event.

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News Release | Environment California

San Rafael Passes California’s 100th Plastic Bag Ban

San Rafael—The City Council voted unanimously tonight to ban single-use plastic shopping bags citywide. San Rafael is the 100th California community to ban plastic bags. Nearly 1 in 3 Californians, 12.3 million in all, now live somewhere with a plastic bag ban.

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