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.

Clean water updates

Blog Post

Study: Hundreds of beaches found not safe for swimming

On the wrong day at the wrong beach, swimming could make you sick.

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News Release | Environment Washington

Students garner overwhelming public support to protect orcas by restoring the Lower Snake River

More than 15,000 Washingtonians agreed this summer to support Environment Washington’s effort to protect orcas by restoring the Lower Snake River through the removal of four dams along the waterway. Students and recent grads led this effort by engaging tens of thousands of residents statewide to urge Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell -- along with other state leaders -- to take action on this pressing issue.

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News Release | Environment America

House passes sweeping PFAS protections: 2025 ban on military use, Superfund cleanup and clean water safeguards

The U.S. House approved a host of provisions today to address widespread drinking water contamination from toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The annual defense spending bill would phase out the military’s use of PFAS-containing firefighting foams by 2025 — a major source of drinking water contamination. The bill would also designate all PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under Superfund and toxic pollutants under the Clean Water Act, spurring cleanup and reducing discharges into waterways, respectively.

Both chambers have now incorporated our request to rapidly phase out the military’s use of PFAS. This is what communities and service members deserve. The House wants this phaseout by 2025, while the Senate says 2023. We are gratified to see this Congressional race to the top.

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News Release | Environment America

Senate approves 2023 ban on military’s toxic PFAS foams

The U.S. Senate passed its annual defense policy bill today with a host of provisions to address widespread drinking water contamination from toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). One key provision would phase out the military’s use of PFAS-containing firefighting foams — a major source of pollution — by 2023. By incorporating our request to adopt a 3-year timeline for phasing out military use of PFAS, the Senate bill prevents further contamination quickly — which is what communities and service members deserve.

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News Release | Environment America

Statement: House should adopt three-year phaseout of PFAS in military

The U.S. House Committee on Armed Services approved provisions in the annual defense policy bill early this morning that would phase out the military’s use of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in firefighting foams. Right now, Congress has a critical opportunity to stamp out a major threat to our public health. Millions of people across the country are currently drinking water contaminated with toxic PFAS chemicals. Eliminating the use of these chemicals is the best way to protect our drinking water from these dangerous substances.

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