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

News Release | Environment America

Statement: EPA commits to PFAS drinking water standards

Following pressure from lawmakers and groups such as Environment America, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed today to begin setting enforceable drinking water standards on two toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). We commend the EPA for listening to the community, incorporating critical feedback, and responding appropriately to protect our drinking water from PFAS contamination.

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News Release | Environment America

Statement: PFAS management plan falls short

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a “PFAS Management Plan” today that fails to establish drinking water standards for toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

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News Release | Environment America

Clock starts on Dirty Water Rule 60-day comment period

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will publish its proposed replacement for the Clean Water Rule in the Federal Register on Feb. 14, initiating the 60-day public comment period. Considering the Dirty Water Rule would strip federal protections from thousands of waterways across the country, the EPA is giving Americans an astonishingly brief opportunity to speak out on the most sweeping attack on clean water in recent memory.

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News Release | Environment Washington Research and Policy Center

New report highlights how toxic “accidents waiting to happen” threaten U.S. waterways

Facilities storing billions of gallons of toxic waste threaten America’s rivers and millions of people who live near them, according to a new report from the Environment Washington Research & Policy Center, WashPIRG Education Fund and the Frontier Group.

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News Release | Environment Washington

Bill to Protect Kids from Lead-Contaminated Drinking Water in WA Schools Introduced

A state bill to protect kids from lead in school drinking water has been introduced in Olympia by Rep. Gerry Pollet. HB 1860 would require schools to notify parents when tests detect lead levels at 1 part per billion (ppb), and to fix water outlets where lead levels reach 5 ppb or higher.

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