Keep Plastic Out of the Pacific

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 a 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 Research and Policy Center

Report examines America’s waste problem over past 3 years

California--- Every year, the average American throws out nearly 1,800 pounds of trash. Together, Americans throw out enough plastic each year to fill up the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium --- the largest NFL football stadium --- 565 times over. To make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a spiraling epidemic of waste, particularly when it comes to plastic. 

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Blog Post

Progress Report: President Biden’s First 100 Days | Lisa Frank

Our new progress report finds that despite the need to rebuild many federal agencies and tackle the COVID-19 crisis, the Biden administration has already taken numerous steps to restore environmental protections.

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News Release | Environment California Research and Policy Center

Report: Ocean protections can help marine life bounce back

Los Angeles, California. -- California’s own Channel Islands Marine Reserves are an example of ocean protection done right, according to a new report released Thursday by Environment California Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group. Entitled New Life for the Ocean: How Marine Protections Keep Our Waters Wild, the report highlights how ocean habitats that are protected from destructive human activities, like the Channel Islands Marine Reserves, can help restore and protect ocean wildlife. 

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Blog Post

A straw and a sea turtle: Why we should stop using single-use plastic | Michaela Morris

The video provides visceral imagery of the suffering caused by single-use plastic. Marine animals, like this turtle, ...do not deserve to suffer extraordinary pain because of the vast quantities of disposable plastic products that end up in the sea. 

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Blog Post

A new wave of legislation against offshore drilling | Kelsey Lamp

Earlier this month, a group of legislators from both coasts signed onto a wave of eight bills in Congress aimed at blocking the Trump administration’s offshore drilling plan.

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