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

Report | Environment Washington Research and Policy Center

Rough Waters Ahead

Puget Sound’s beauty hides some of the challenges it faces. Salmon and other wildlife populations struggle, past industrial pollution in some areas has made fish unsafe to eat, and untreated sewage pollutes shellfish beds. But with the dedicated work of local, state and federal governments – along with residents – the long process of restoring Puget Sound to health is underway. The U.S.

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News Release | Environment Washington Research and Policy Center

Major Polluters Dumping into Washington Waterways

Major industrial facilities illegally dumped dangerous levels of pollution into Washington’s waterways 55 times over 21 months, according to a new report by Environment Washington Research and Policy Center. The facilities rarely faced penalties for this pollution due to inaction by state and federal agencies responsible for implementing the Clean Water Act. Environment Washington’s Troubled Waters report comes as the Trump administration tries to weaken clean water protections and slash enforcement funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the states.

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Report | Environment Washington Research & Policy Center

Troubled Waters 2018

Over a 21-month period from January 2016 to September 2017, major industrial facilities released pollution that exceeded the levels allowed under their Clean Water Act permits more than 8,100 times. Often, these polluters faced no fines or penalties.

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News Release | Environment Washington

Offshore Drilling Proposal Threatens Washington’s, America’s Coasts and Marine Wildlife

Bidding for offshore oil and gas leases could begin as early as 2019 in almost all federal waters, including the Pacific under a new Trump Administration proposal. Environment Washington denounced the plan, which would open vast new areas of the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico to drilling.

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Report | Environment Washington

Less Shelter from the Storm

This new study analyzed the FY 2018 budget proposed by President Trump in the spring of 2017 and the current House and Senate appropriations bills and their impact on programs that protect communities from storm-related impacts, such as flooding, sewage overflows, and leaks from toxic waste sites.

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