Great Pacific Cleanup

The Pacific Ocean is a part of California’s culture, from the surfing in San Diego to the boardwalk in Santa Monica, to the cliffs in Santa Cruz. When people think about California, they see beaches, the ocean, sea lions, and waves. We need to do everything we can to protect it, and the easiest thing we can do is ban plastic bags. They clog our shores and swirl in our ocean, killing millions of sea turtles and marine life every year.

California uses 12 billion plastic bags per year. All of this plastic not only clogs up our landfills, it’s also hurting the ocean. Right now there is an island of trash twice the size of Texas floating in the Pacific. This floating trash island is full of plastic bags and other artificial debris. It kills millions of birds and marine animals like sea turtles every year. If we don't start cleaning up our act here in California, it will only keep growing.

Too much of this trash heap comes from things we don’t need, like plastic grocery bags. Nothing we use for a few minutes should be polluting the ocean for hundreds of years!

To a sea turtle, a plastic bag floating in the ocean looks a lot like dinner, a jellyfish to be precise. That's why the plastic bags that find their way into the Pacific pose an often-fatal risk to wildlife. We're working to build support for a ban on plastic bags in California.

Of course, the companies that make and sell 11.9 billion bags are fighting to maintain the status quo, fronted by the lobbying team from the American Chemistry Council. But we need to do what is best for the Pacific Ocean and our future.

The rest of the world is already taking action.  More than 25 countries have plastic bag bans including India and China.  It’s time for California to lead the way to cleaning up plastic pollution in the U.S.  We've gotten a good start.  Already, fourteen cities and counties have banned plastic bags and another 29 have introduced bans.

This year, we're working to get the 9 cities our chapters are in to ban single-use plastic bags and to build support for a statewide ban. 

Issue updates

Media Hit | Oceans, Waste

CALPIRG Pushes for Yes on Prop 67

UCSB’s CALPIRG chapter is working to convince students to vote yes on Prop 67, which will effectively ban plastic bags in the state of California.

Read more:

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Media Hit | Oceans

Success of Plastic Bag Ban Dependent on Student Commitment

The California ban on single-use plastic bags is a huge step toward reducing litter, but it might not be as effective a change as its advocates assume.  On Sept. 30, Gov. Jerry Brown became the first governor to sign a statewide ban on plastic bags in grocery and convenience stores. Many California cities already instituted the ban earlier this year, including Los Angeles. In his signing statement, Brown stated that he hopes to encourage other states across the nation to follow our example and reduce their litter as well.

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Blog Post | Oceans

And today we won again! | CALPIRG Students

Thanks to you, when this law goes into effect, we’ll take billions of plastic bags out of our environment. That means that sea turtles and other ocean wildlife can soon breathe a sigh of relief. 

Let’s celebrate! Can you forward this email to 25 friends or share our Facebook post?

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Blog Post | Oceans

Tell the Governor: Sign the Bills | CALPIRG Students

For over eight years, we have fought against the plastics and chemical industries in order to win a statewide ban on plastic grocery bags. Thanks to your help -- your emails, calls and support -- we are just a signature away from winning this campaign. With the stroke of a pen, the governor can make California the first state in the nation to phase out disposable plastic grocery bags: That will keep billions of plastic bags from littering our neighborhoods, washing into our rivers, polluting the Pacific, and harming marine wildlife as they have for years.

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Blog Post | Oceans, Sustainability, Waste, Water

Victory: It's in the bag

Just moments ago the LA City Council voted to ban single use plastic bags - listening to the voices of students and community members who support protecting the ocean and reducing plastic pollution.

Over fifty thousand California students have signed petitions, volunteered, and made phone calls to help pass pass bag bans across the state.

Today, thanks to the efforts of students, environmental groups, and citizens across LA, we passed the biggest bag ban yet.

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