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: Inslee/Murray report provides blueprint for breaching the Lower Snake River Dams and saving salmon and orcas

Gov. Jay Inslee and United States Sen. Patty Murray released on Thursday a draft report on dam breaching on the Lower Snake River. The draft report, entitled "Lower Snake River Dams: Benefit Replacement Draft Report," was released after a months-long assessment started in December 2021 to determine how the dams’ services could be replaced and the impacts on salmon populations currently facing extinction.


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News Release | Environment America

U.S. Interior Department to phase out sale of single-use plastic products in parks, public lands

WASHINGTON --- Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland issued an order on Wednesday, World Oceans Day, to phase out single-use plastic products on lands managed by the Department of the Interior by 2032. The order is intended to reduce -- and eventually eliminate -- plastic and polystyrene food and beverage containers, bottles, straws, cups, cutlery and disposable plastic bags at national parks and on other public lands.

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News Release | Environment Washington

Youth-led rally & march highlights urgent need to stop salmon and orca extinction, remove lower Snake River dams

On the first weekend of Orca Recovery Month, youth organizers and conservation groups marched and rallied, calling on Washington’s elected officials to include removing the four lower Snake River dams in their plan to restore endangered salmon populations on the Snake River, which Southern Resident orcas and Northwest communities rely on. 

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News Release | Environment Washington

Statement: Orca birth good news, reaffirms need for dam removal

An orca calf is joining the Southern Resident K pod for the first time in over a decade.

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Blog Post

Leaders raise 'Voices for Orcas' | John Stout

On March 9, Environment Washington launched the "Voices for Orcas" website as part of our campaign to save the Southern Resident orcas from extinction

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