Keep Plastic Out of Puget Sound
Plastic pollution poses a serious threat to whales, seals, turtles, salmon and all of Puget Sound’s wildlife. We’re urging Washington's leaders to stop the flow of plastic into Puget Sound by banning disposable plastic bags.
Two billion bags used each year
Plastic pollution poses a serious threat to whales, seals, turtles, salmon and all of Puget Sound’s wildlife. Too much of the trash comes from single-use plastic bags, which can choke, suffocate or kill thousands of whales, birds and other marine wildlife each year. We saw the effects of this last year when a beached gray whale was found in West Seattle with 20 plastic bags in its stomach. Nothing we use for a few minutes should end up in the belly of a whale.
Yet 2 billion plastic bags are distributed annually throughout Washington state, and nationwide, less than 5 percent of plastic bags are recycled.
Marine life in danger
Too many of plastic bags end up as litter in Puget Sound, and its creating an ecological disaster:
• Whales and seabirds can ingest floating plastic, mistaking it for food. They also get entangled in bags and can drown or die of suffocation. A beached grey whale was found in West Seattle in 2010 with 20 plastic bags in its stomach.
• 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.
• Small pieces of plastic can absorb toxic pollutants like DDT and PCB. Scientists have found that fish are ingesting these toxins when they ingest plastic, concentrating the chemicals in the food chain. There is a good chance that we also absorb these pollutants 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 gets worse.
With your help, we can stop the flow of trash and begin the cleanup
The good news is, Washingtonians are taking action to protect the Sound. In 2009, Edmonds became the first city in the state to ban plastic bags. In 2011, six other cities joined the effort. Bellingham, Mukilteo, Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Port Townsend, and Issaquah all banned the bag, significantly cutting down on the amount of plastic flowing into Puget Sound. Today, dozens more communities are considering similar legislation, including Olympia. Local bans have an immediate impact and are a great start—but we can’t stop until bags are banned statewide.
We need you to get involved if we’re going to stop the flow of plastic pollution into the Sound. Your support will make it possible for our staff to do research, make our case to the media, reach out to critical constituencies, testify in Olympia, and educate government officials so that they can make the right choices. If enough of us speak out, we can cut the flow of plastic into Puget Sound by banning disposable plastic bags.
- Researchers have found plastic pollution in every sample taken from Puget Sound.
- Plastic debris kills millions of sea turtles, sea birds and marine mammals each year.
- A statewide ban could keep more than 2 billion single-use plastic bags out of our environment each year.
- Bag bans are on the books in Seattle, Mukilteo, Bainbridge Island, Bellingham and Edmonds—thanks in part to Environment Washington members and supporters. We're working to win more local bans while we build momentum to ban the bags statewide.