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 Washington

Statement: Agencies’ plan not enough to save orcas

The latest attempt to restore salmon populations and protect highly endangered Southern Resident orcas, announced by federal agency leaders today, comes up short. Many years of research shows that restoring the lower Snake River by removing its four dams is the best - and likely only - way to ensure salmon recovery and steer Southern Resident Orcas away from extinction. 

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News Release | Environment America

Statement: House advances greenest budget in recent memory

The House Appropriations Committee approved funding for a number of important environmental programs Friday as part of the FY21 funding bill for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of the Interior (DOI). Most notably, the budget dedicates emergency funding for many of the infrastructure proposals in the Moving Forward Act (H.R.2), including $10.2 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. Additionally, the bill blocks the administration’s attempts to: open the Tongass National Forest to logging; drill for oil in the Arctic Refuge; expand offshore drilling; weaken protections on toxic mercury and arsenic emissions; and open the Boundary Waters to toxic pollution from sulfide mining.

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News Release | Environment Washington, WashPIRG

Washington’s lead bill wouldn’t safeguard school drinking water

The state Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on a significantly-weakened version of a bill related to lead in schools’ drinking water.

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News Release | Environment Washington

“Bruce Speight Act” would protect children from lead exposure

The Washington State House will have an initial hearing today on a bill to get lead out of drinking water at schools.

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News Release | Environment America

Statement: House passes suite of clean water safeguards on “forever chemicals”

The U.S. House approved a bipartisan measure today to protect America’s water and air from toxic “forever chemicals” best known by the acronym PFAS. The PFAS Action Act (H.R. 535) passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 247–159. Environment America has long advocated for stronger protections on PFAS as part of its No Toxics On Tap campaign. The national nonpartisan organization successfully worked with Congress last year to phase out the military’s use of these chemicals in firefighting foams under the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. While that phaseout was a significant step, the PFAS Action Act takes further action to curtail continuing sources of pollution to water and air as well as establish new provisions to clean up existing contamination.

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