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Heal the Bay Blog

Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program Manager, Frankie Orrala, shares the program’s positive impacts and successes from over the last 17 years.

Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program (AOP) is celebrating 17 years! This program is designed to educate pier and shore anglers in Los Angeles and Orange County about the risks of consuming fish contaminated with toxins such as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Created in 2003, AOP is a component of the Fish Contamination Education Collaboration (FCEC) and managed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of a far-reaching public education and outreach program. Notably, the program also works in association with federal and state agencies as well as local community organizations.

The FCEC was established to address a major contamination site (aka Superfund site) off the coast of Los Angeles, along the Palos Verdes shelf. DDT and PCBs were historically discharged into the ocean near the Palos Verdes Peninsula, pollution which still exists in the sediment today. These toxins can travel through the food chain into fish and potentially have negative impacts on human health if the fish are eaten; certain species of fish and certain areas are more likely to be contaminated.

The goal of the AOP is to educate anglers about this contamination and share which fish should be avoided. During visits to different piers in Southern California, Heal the Bay’s educational team has interacted with diverse fishing communities and outreach is conducted in multiple languages. Heal the Bay is proud to have a team of bilingual staff who have educated Southern California pier anglers in multiple languages, including: Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Khmer and Russian.

Since its inception 17 years ago, Heal the Bay’s AOP team has educated more than 170,000 pier anglers. Along the way, we have heard many stories and learned a lot about the people who frequently fish on our local piers. We appreciate these anglers and the knowledge and experiences they share with us.

Awards Received at the National Level

In 2009, the EPA presented two prestigious awards to the Fish Contamination Education Collaborative. FCEC was recognized for its work to protect the most vulnerable populations in Southern California from the health risks of consuming fish contaminated with DDT and PCBs; the other award was given to Heal the Bay and all FCEC partners in Los Angeles for Achievement in Environmental Justice.

On behalf of the AOP and Heal the Bay, I traveled to Washington D.C.  to receive the distinguished award in recognition of Citizen Excellence in Community Involvement. This award is presented annually to an individual or community group working with a Superfund team for outstanding achievements in the field of environmental protection.

Heal the Bay was thrilled to be selected to present to the FCEC among other national projects. The recognition was significant as it confirmed Heal the Bay’s work is truly protecting the health of all people, especially communities with economic and social disadvantages.

 

2009 Award Winner: Frankie Orrala of Heal the Bay receiving the Citizen Excellence in Community Involvement and Environmental Justice Achievement Awards

In addition to accepting this award in Washington D.C, in 2009, I traveled to Ecuador in South America, along with scientists from the National Fisheries Institute (Instituto Nacional de Pesca) as well as professors, researchers and students from the University of Guayaquil. We came together to talk about FCEC’s efforts to monitor pollution and educate the public about its effect on human and environmental health.

The international interest our program receives is an honor; the AOP team is busy building on these relationships and with more communities as they are facing similar problems as Southern California.

Continuing to advance environmental justice is a critical objective of our work. Moving forward, Heal the Bay’s AOP program remains committed to educating and protecting chronically underserved populations in the region, many of whom are exposed to higher rates of pollution compared to the general population.

In closing, there are many reasons for the AOP team’s continued success, from our great team members to the communities we work with, to the experts who are providing us with advice. All of it wouldn’t be possible without Heal the Bay’s dedicated supporters and for that we say THANK YOU!


To learn more about our program, visit www.pvsfish.org and if you want to join our bilingual team call us at 310-451-1500 or visit our site at www.healthebay.org

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El Programa Educacional Pesquero de Heal the Bay (AOP, por sus siglas en inglés) es un programa educativo dirigido a los pescadores de muelles y zona costera de los Condados de Los Angeles y Condado de Orange sobre los riesgos de consumir pescado contaminado con toxinas como el dicloro-difenil-tricloroetane (DDT) y los bifenilos policlorinados(PCBs). AOP es un componente del Grupo Educacional sobre la Contaminación de Peces (FCEC), por sus siglas en inglés) creado en el 2003 y administrado por la Agencia de Protección Ambiental (EPA, por sus siglas en inglés) como parte de un programa de educación pública, en asociación con otras agencias federales, estatales, y organizaciones comunitarias locales. 

El FCEC se estableció porque hay un sitio importante de contaminación (o sitio Superfund) frente a la costa de Los Angeles en la plataforma de Palos Verdes. El DDT y PCB se descargaron hisóricamente en el océano cerca de la península de Palos Verdes y todavía permanecen en el sedimento. Estas toxinas pueden viajar a través de la cadena alimenticia hacia los peces y potencialmente tener impactos negativos en la salud humana. Ciertas especies de peces y ciertas áreas tienen más probabilidades de estar contaminadas.

El objetivo del AOP es educar a los pescadores sobre la contaminación y qué peces deben evitarse. A lo largo de nuestras visitas a diferentes muelles en el sur de California, nuestro equipo educativo ha interactuado con diversas comunidades pesqueras. La divulgación se realiza en varios idiomas; Por esta razón, el equipo de Heal the Bay cuenta con un personal bilingüe que ha cubierto, con el tiempo, todos los diferentes grupos de pescadores de muelle del sur de California en varios idiomas, incluidos: español, chino, tagalo, vietnamita, camboyano y ruso.

Desde los inicios del programa, el equipo de Heal the Bay ha educado a más de 170,000 pescadores de muelles. Como tal, hemos escuchado muchas historias y aprendido mucho sobre las personas que frecuentemente pescan en nuestros muelles locales. Apreciamos a estos pescadores que comparten con nosotros sus conocimientos y experiencias.

Premios recibidos a nivel nacional

En 2009, la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de EE. UU. otorgó dos prestigiosos premios al Grupo Educacional sobre Contaminación de Peces. Para ese entonces, viajé hasta Washington D.C. para recibir tan distinguido reconocimiento a la Excelencia Ciudadana en Participación Comunitaria. Este premio se entrega anualmente a un individuo o grupo comunitario que trabaja con un equipo de sitios Superfund por los logros sobresalientes que se hayan realizado en el campo de la protección ambiental. El FCEC fue reconocido por su trabajo por proteger a las poblaciones más vulnerables del sur de California de los riesgos de salud que implica consumir pescados contaminado con DDT y PCB. El otro premio fue otorgado a Heal the Bay y a todos los socios de FCEC en Los Ángeles por Logro en Justicia Ambiental.

Este reconocimiento es significativo para Heal the Bay porque muestra que estamos logrando nuestro objetivo de proteger la salud para todos, especialmente a las comunidades con desventajas económicas y sociales. Heal the Bay tuvo el honor de ser seleccionado y representar a FCEC de una serie de proyectos nacionales. La justicia ambiental es un componente principal de nuestro trabajo, ya que nos centramos en segmentos de la población que con demasiada frecuencia se descuidan.

 

Ganador del Premio 2009: Frankie Orrala de Heal the Bay recibió los Premios a la Excelencia Ciudadana en Participación Comunitaria y Logro en Justicia Ambiental.

Además de aceptar este premio en la capital, también viajé a Ecuador en América del Sur, junto con científicos del Instituto Nacional de Pesca y profesores, investigadores y estudiantes de la Universidad de Guayaquil. Nos reunimos y hablamos de los esfuerzos de FCEC para monitorear la contaminación y educar al público sobre su efecto en la salud humana y ambiental. El interés internacional de nuestro programa es un honor, y esperamos construir más relaciones en el futuro con comunidades que enfrentan problemas similares que tenemos en el sur de California.

Hay muchas razones para nuestro éxito continuo del programa AOP de Heal the Bay, desde los miembros de nuestro gran equipo, comunidades con las que trabajamos, hasta de los expertos que nos brindan asesoramiento. ¡Todo esto no sería posible sin nuestros seguidores y por eso te lo agradecemos!


Para obtener más información sobre nuestro programa, visite www.pvsfish.org y si deseas unirte a nuestro equipo bilingüe llámenos al 310-451-1500 o visita nuestro sitio www.healthebay.org

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Ines Ware, our Advancement Special Events Manager, dives into how Heal the Bay is adapting fundraising programs and focusing on virtually connecting with supporters, including the launch of new live videos and a shift to an all Online Auction.


This year has been one for the books. However, as we brace for a challenging fundraising period as a nonprofit, we are confident we will continue to keep up the good fight to protect clean water.

The health and safety of our supporters, partners, staff, and community is a top priority. Heal the Bay has postponed our Annual Gala until further notice. We also temporarily closed Heal the Bay Aquarium and suspended all public program activities.

It’s a bummer we will not be seeing everyone in-person, however, we can still connect virtually! We just launched Bring the Beach Home and we are hosting an Online Auction.

View Auction

Heal the Bay’s Auction is open for bidding on Wednesday, May 20 at Noon PDT and closes Wednesday, May 27 at 9pm PDT.  You can text “bringthebeachhome” to 243725 for real-time updates from Heal the Bay about our Auction and Bring the Beach Home live videos. 

We have amazing items to offer in our Auction this year, including one-of-a-kind Heal the Bay goodies, luxury getaways, coveted experiences (that can be booked in 2021), and more. View all our Online Auction items and donate to Fund the Bay

Featured Auction Items

Some Helpful Auction Tips

  • Bookmark our Auction site
  • Save time and register your credit card by texting “bringthebeachhome” to 243725
  • In addition to submitting bids, you can set your maximum bids and the system will bid for you. Don’t worry, it won’t go past your limit.
  • Learn more about how to bid

Proceeds from our Auction directly fund Heal the Bay’s science, advocacy, community outreach, and public education work. Bid early, bid often, bid generously, and help us continue to keep California’s coastal waters safe and healthy for people and marine life.

Heal the Bay Live Auction Livestreams

Tune in to our special livestream of the Live Auction on Facebook Live and YouTube Live with auctioneer and host Billy Harris on Wednesday, May 27 at 6pm PDT. I look forward to seeing you there.



Luke Ginger, Water Quality Scientist at Heal the Bay, discusses our disappearing Los Angeles County beaches due to climate change, and what we can all learn from the COVID-19 pandemic as local beaches begin to reopen. Luke fights for the environment’s rights by advocating for water quality regulation and enforcement. But he’s also looking out for the humans who go to the beaches, rivers, and streams by managing the Beach Report Card with NowCast and the River Report Card.

The beach has always provided me with happiness, fun, comfort, and adventure. As a kid, my parents had to pry me and my siblings away from the beach every time we went – we would have gladly tried our luck sleeping on the cold damp sand rather than get into our minivan. Two decades later, most of my beach days end with me reluctantly walking back to my Prius clutching my beach accoutrements with pruney fingers and purple lips from staying in the water too long. Only now I don’t have to convince anyone to stop for ice cream on the way home!

The ocean always has and always will be a fixture in my life. And, the same is true for many people living in SoCal. Beaches are where families gather, where people go to relax and have fun, and where anglers provide food for their families. The beach is a priceless resource woven into our lives providing us with happiness, memories, and sustenance. This makes it hard to accept the bitter reality that we will lose many of our beaches due to impacts from climate change and coastal development. 

Climate change is causing our oceans to warm up. When water warms up it expands, leading to sea level rise. The melting of glaciers and ice sheets also contributes to sea level rise. This puts our local beaches at risk because the ocean will gradually get bigger and eat up more sand and land. 

Our coastline is also shrinking because coastal development exacerbates beach loss by acting as a barrier to the natural movement of beaches inland as well as by cutting off natural sources of sand that would have nourished our beaches.

Depending on our response to sea level rise and our approach to coastal development, Southern California is predicted to lose between 31% and 67% of its beaches. What’s even more devastating is the fact that we cannot make that figure 0% because there has not been enough done to stem climate change both locally and globally. The hard truth is losing beaches is an inevitability due to humanity’s inaction to properly safeguard them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us a dire glimpse into what our future holds. It is telling that many beaches in California had to be shut down during the pandemic because too many people were drawn to them. The beach gives us opportunities to exercise and offers moments of mental peace and relaxation, especially during difficult times. While beaches in Los Angeles County start to reopen this week for active recreation activities only, we still face the reality that soon there will be less beach for all of us to enjoy. 

These facts are hard to live with. But, we need to harness our emotions and use them for action. Our actions now can ensure we give our disappearing beaches a fair chance at being saved.

Here’s what you can do right now to help save our remaining beaches:

  1. Become civically engaged! Support policies that reduce pollution and wane our dependence on oil and fossil fuels. Heal the Bay supports California Senate Bill 54/Assembly Bill 1080, which requires companies to reduce their single-use plastic packaging (derived from oil) by 75%. We also support the end of drilling in neighborhoods as well as on the coast. If there are no climate action policies to vote on, or if you can’t vote, become an activist and participate in local events like Fire Drill Fridays or volunteer with organizations like STANDLA.
  2. Change your behavior! Consider personal lifestyle changes such as eating more plant-based meals and reducing your dependence on single-use plastics. See our list of climate action tips to help you. If we all take steps to reduce our individual climate impacts, we can have a huge impact. But we can’t rely solely on our individual actions; we need policies at all levels of government that will reign in polluting industries. Learn more about why we need to make systemic changes along with personal changes.
  3. Volunteer with Heal the Bay! We offer many opportunities for individuals and groups to help make an impact on protecting the environment. Register for a virtual volunteer orientation. Once we are back up and running, you can join us for a beach cleanup, help educate the public at Heal the Bay Aquarium, and participate in our community science programs.  
  4. Enjoy the beach safely! Tackling climate change requires widespread public support and for all of us to adapt to new realities. Whenever you visit the beach, make sure you are following all signage posted in the area as well as health and safety guidelines. And before you go in the water, make sure you check the Beach Report Card for the latest water quality grades and information.
  5. Increase coastal access! Heal the Bay supports coastal access for all, and it concerns us that many local communities in California have no access to open space. Nature heals us, and everyone should be able to enjoy the outdoors. As we continue to prioritize the COVID-19 response, and look toward the gradual reopening of outdoor spaces and related services, it is crucial for our state to work with diverse stakeholders to set clear health and safety guidelines so our outdoor spaces can reopen to all people and for a variety of activities. You can take action by urging your local and state government to prioritize safety, equity, and access when creating reopening plans for our beaches, parks, and trails.


Annelisa Moe, our Water Quality Scientist, explains the potential of LA’s rainfall, and how every individual can take part in voicing which stormwater capture projects should get Measure W funding.

Like all those across the country who can, I have been practicing responsible physical distancing and staying #SaferAtHome, only leaving the house to buy food or go for a walk. It is getting hot now, but throughout March there were days when I had to carefully time my neighborhood walks to avoid getting caught in the rain – something I am not used to having to do here in sunny Los Angeles.

Although we experienced a very dry winter this year, we have also gotten an unusually wet spring. In fact, we got 4.35 inches of rain in March alone, far exceeding the historical average for that month. But let’s be honest, when it comes to rainfall in LA, “average” does not happen all that often. In 2017, we received only 5 inches of rain. In 2018, we got a whopping 19 inches of rain. And in the 5 years that I have lived in LA, I have been caught off guard by more than one mid-summer downpour.

That’s why this is the time – right now – to figure out how to capture, clean, and reuse more of our stormwater, even from the most unexpected showers, so that we can prepare for a warmer and drier future with a dwindling snowpack.

Stormwater is the number one source of pollution in our rivers, lakes, and ocean. But it could instead become a new source of water for beneficial use. We now have the opportunity to fund new multi-benefit and nature-based stormwater capture projects because LA County voters approved The Safe, Clean Water Program (Measure W) back in 2018. Dozens of projects were proposed across Los Angeles County, 53 of which qualify for funding through the Safe, Clean Water Program this year! Funding and completion of the best of these projects – the ones that truly exemplify the goals of the Safe, Clean Water Program – will improve water quality at beaches and in rivers to protect public health, and green our communities and promote local water to make LA County more resilient to climate change.


Safe Clean Water Program GIS Reference Map. Each Watershed Area is shown in its own unique color. The colored dots represent all of the projects that applied for Safe, Clean Water Program funding this year. Explore the interactive map for more information.

As members of the nine Watershed Area Steering Committees (WASCs) decide which projects to fund, they must consider the commitments made to the greater LA community under this Program, including the goals to improve water quality, prioritize nature-based solutions, foster community engagement, ensure the equitable distribution of funds, and provide local quality jobs.

Fifty-three stormwater capture projects to choose from for Measure W funding! 

OurWaterLA, a diverse coalition working to reinvest in our water future, believes that the following projects best exemplify the goals of the Safe, Clean Water Program, out of the 53 proposed:

In response to COVID-19, WASCs will now convene through virtual online meetings, which are open to the public. The nine WASCs will be making their final decisions on which projects to fund starting Tuesday, April 28, and continuing through May. These funding decisions must be made with consideration given to community input. OurWaterLA will be advocating for the projects listed above, and providing additional input on other proposed projects.

Join Heal the Bay and OurWaterLA to become a Water Warrior:

Search your address to find out which WASC area is yours. Click on your WASC link below to learn all about your watershed area and your committee representatives, and then scroll down to sign up for e-mail updates. You can also check out the OurWaterLA Events calendar to see upcoming committee meeting dates, and find links to join your virtual online meeting.

Take a look at the PowerPoint presentations for the projects proposed in your WASC area, and contact your WASC representatives about which projects you would like to see funded this year.

Check out OurWaterLA Water Leader Resources. Don’t forget to share these electronic resources with your community. We may be physically distancing right now, but we can band together online and in spirit to secure our water future!

Contact Annelisa at Heal the Bay with any questions, or to learn more about how to get involved.


Want to learn more?



Although we can’t be at the beach with friends and family at this time, the beaches are still there, along with all the marine life and memories we cherish – and Heal the Bay is still here protecting them.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to spread knowledge and share our passion for our waters. We launched a new virtual educational series, Knowledge Drops, for the million-plus children in Los Angeles who can no longer go to school. And we’re continuing to fight big plastic and EPA rollbacks as they attempt to exploit this global crisis and cut local environmental protections.

However, the temporary suspension of Heal the Bay’s public programs, the closure of our Heal the Bay Aquarium, and the cancellation of our Annual Gala has resulted in a loss in fundraising that we greatly rely on to fulfill our mission. Now more than ever, Heal the Bay needs your support.

We’re more powerful when we come together, so let’s come together for Heal the Bay. Please help us by making a donation to fund our crucial work and participating in our Bring the Beach Home campaign.


Take Part

How is the beach special to you? We invite you to share your meaningful beach photo and story on Instagram or Facebook and take us all on a trip down memory lane. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to see inspiring beach moments from our community.

  1. Share your beach memory using #BringtheBeachHome.
  2. Nominate 5 friends to share their favorite beach moments (Pro tip: add them to your post or use the Instagram Challenge Story Sticker).
  3. Tag @healthebay to have your post featured.

See Us Live

We miss you, but just because we are physically apart doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected. Join our weekly Heal the Bay live streams where we’ll introduce new Heal the Bay supporters, share favorite beach memories, and unearth helpful sustainability tips and topics. We look forward to having a fun and positive conversation with you each week.

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Subscribe to our YouTube >


Stay Connected With Us

Text BringtheBeachHome to 243725.

We will keep you informed about our new live streams, exciting online auction, and more announcements. (We promise not to overload your text messages. Normal data rates may apply.)

DONATE



In part two of this two-part blog post, our Heal the Bay team dives into the causes and impacts of climate change. Check out part one.

Why is it critical for us to make a strong commitment to climate action now? Well, to start, we are emitting 152 million tons of green-house-gas (GHG) pollution into our atmosphere every single day. Oceans have been our buffer for decades, absorbing much of this air pollution and heat, not to mention all of the stormwater pollution, plastic, and other contaminants that end up washing out to the coast.

Our persistent and destructive actions have altered the oceans’ natural processes. Absorption of GHGs has changed the pH of our oceans causing ocean acidification, which negatively impacts the entire marine ecosystem. Rising ocean temperatures affect ocean circulation, which not only prevents efficient transport of nutrients but also makes it harder for the ocean to continue to naturally absorb our GHGs. 

As we continue to dump pollution into our environment, we have begun to feel the impacts of this climate crisis here on dry land, as well, with longer droughts, more intense storms, erosion along our shorelines from sea level rise, air pollution, more devastating fire seasons, and an increase in record breaking temperatures contributing to the impact of widespread heat islands (urban areas that are much hotter than their rural or natural surroundings because of human activity). As a result, we are facing heat and flood related deaths, food shortages, and an increased spread of disease. 

Professor Hugh Montgomery acknowledged climate change as a medical emergency back in June 2015, but the fact is we have been experiencing a climate induced emergency worldwide for decades. We are all impacted by climate change; however, the burden of these negative impacts is not distributed equally across communities. 

A history of racially discriminatory land and environmental policies has caused an unjust and disproportionate impact on overburdened communities. We are seeing this disparity in the current pandemic and it continues to be felt in the climate crisis.

Low-income communities of color have significantly less access to parks and green space, which exacerbates the heat island effect. And despite the fact that higher-income households have a larger carbon footprint, the highest concentration of oil wells in Los Angeles are in low-income neighborhoods whose residents face higher rates of health-related problems as a result. These disproportionate and location-specific rates of health-related problems like asthma and upper respiratory illness are direct consequences of systemic environmental racism, and the reason low-income communities of color are at a higher risk to contract and die from COVID-19. To amplify this burden, the same communities also bear significant socioeconomic impacts as a result of the response to this pandemic.  

Additionally, a lack of community representation in local government and decision-making processes makes adequate access to resources to prepare for and combat the impacts of climate change even more difficult. The compounding social, economic, and environmental impacts of climate change make just, sustainable, and immediate climate action vital. 

How is Heal the Bay Fighting for Systemic Climate Action?

In addition to calling for individual actions, Heal the Bay is taking our own climate action now by demanding systemic changes. 

We push for climate resilient policies within local city and county offices as well as many state agencies like the State Water Resources Control Board, the Fish and Game Commission, the Coastal Commission, and the Ocean Protection Council. We track the activities of each agency so that we can advocate for science-based climate actions such as creating sustainability plans, setting aggressive goals to address ocean acidification and deoxygenation, and approving a strong MS4 Permit to reduce the pollution that exacerbates those issues.

We also advocate for the restoration of our ecosystems that have the ability to buffer against climate change by sequestering carbon, reducing the heat island effect, and protecting us from flooding. Our work on Los Angeles River ecological health, Ballona Wetlands restoration, and Marine Protected Areas all serve to create healthy watersheds and a thriving ocean, natural climate buffers, and important natural resources on which we depend.

In addition, we engage in programs to implement environmentally friendly and sustainable projects like wastewater recycling and stormwater capture that provide multiple benefits (improving our water quality, increasing our water supply, restoring our watersheds, etc.). These projects not only help us prepare for the impacts of the climate crisis, but they also restore natural processes that can help us to fight climate change. In addition, we actively oppose expensive and environmentally harmful projects like ocean water desalination, so we can put our limited resources toward more sustainable multi-benefit projects.

And we work to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels by forcefully opposing offshore drilling in the Santa Monica Bay and in neighborhoods, negotiating with the City of LA for a just transition to renewable energy, and banning single-use plastic (a product of fossil fuel).

Of course, the greatest asset we have is YOU: people who read our blogs, people who volunteer at cleanups, people who come by our table at public events or visit Heal the Bay Aquarium, people who invite us to speak at schools and events, people who take the time to learn and then share their knowledge with others.

To overcome the climate crisis in a way that is just and sustainable, we need both individual action and systemic change. But, most importantly, we all must acknowledge how injustices in our communities affect the impact of, and our responses to, climate change in order to create a resilient future for all.



In part one of this two-part blog post, our Heal the Bay team encourages you to take climate action on Earth Day and every day. Check out part two.

We have all been impacted by COVID-19. Thousands have lost their lives and millions more have lost their livelihoods. During these devastating times, something has happened that many thought wasn’t possible: coordinated collective action around the world to defeat a common threat. As we tackle the climate crisis, we want to carry over that same momentum of collective action, while ensuring that health and safety does not come at the cost of frontline communities.

As we continue to band together to save lives through our individual actions across state lines and international borders—physically distancing ourselves and wearing protective gear to slow the spread of COVID-19—we must also make a commitment to take climate action.

Greenhouse gas emissions by humans have thrown Earth’s natural processes off track, causing longer droughts, more intense storms, sea level rise, air pollution, hotter temperatures, devastating fire seasons, and more. Underserved communities bear the brunt of these negative impacts, which are now linked to higher COVID-19 death rates

Heal the Bay has committed to taking climate action by educating thousands of volunteers about the climate crisis, advocating for climate resilient policies, and engaging in the restoration of our ecosystems (natural climate buffers). Can you make the commitment too? Here is how you can take the climate challenge to lower your carbon footprint and advocate for the systemic changes necessary to tackle the climate crisis.

Take the Climate Challenge

Just as our personal actions during the ongoing COVID-19 response have helped flatten the curve, so too could our individual actions help slow down the onslaught of the climate crisis. However, wider systemic changes are also required to make the sweeping revolution our planet needs. And you have an important role in that transformation, too! 

The current pandemic places limitations on what we can do. It is a privilege to have the time, energy, and financial resources to make environmentally conscious choices and take action against climate change. Yet for many communities the decision to take climate action now or later can mean the difference between life and death. 

So let’s do our best to get creative and be intentional with our actions and resources. Whether you have money, time, creativity, passion, or something else entirely your own, we all have a unique contribution to make in the fight against climate change. Start by picking one action you can take today to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Use #fightclimatechangefromhome and let us know how you are fighting climate change for Earth Day!

Don’t stop there! Consider the skills, experiences, and resources you have to offer and create a personal list of climate actions. And because every day is Earth Day, take this list with you and do what you can when you can with what you have. 

Here are some ideas to get started…

Where We Live

  • Pick up trash around your neighborhood 
  • Ditch single-use plastic and switch to reusables at home
  • Remove any hardscape or lawn on your property and replace it with a vegetable garden or drought tolerant native vegetation 
  • Start or join a community garden
  • Sign up for Green Power or install solar panels
  • Reduce your energy needs 
    • Turn off lights, unplug unused electronics, and swap out old lights with LEDs (once the bulbs burn out)
    • Bring in a professional to insulate your home, or find simple swaps around the house like adding thick curtains around your windows  
    • Set your thermostat for maximum energy savings, or regulate temperature without a thermostat by opening/closing windows and using those thick curtains
    • Wash clothes in cold water, and hang dry rather than using the dryer
  • Decrease your water usage

How We Commute

  • Telecommute if it is an option
  • Choose public transportation
  • Walk or skateboard for shorter distances
  • Ride a bicycle
  • If you must drive
    • Carpool
    • Invest in a hybrid or electric vehicle
    • Use car sharing services with electric vehicles
    • Make sure your vehicle is in tip top shape for optimal efficiency (secure gas cap, inflate tires, etc.)

What We Eat

What We Learn

How We Vote

  • Vote in local, statewide and national elections!
  • Support just and equitable environmental policies in support of:  
    • Climate resiliency
    • A tax on carbon
    • The end of fossil fuels
    • Regenerative agriculture
    • Renewable energy
    • A reduction in plastic waste
  • Be an advocate
    • Attend local City Council meetings and town halls
    • Send a letter to your local representatives so they know climate action is important to you
    • Participate in public demonstrations and rallies
    • Sign petitions
    • Give public comments
    • Take part in the Census 2020
    • Create climate inspired art and share it with the world
  • Join existing efforts by Heal the Bay and partner groups to demand climate action now 

We hope you are feeling inspired to take climate action today. Take a deeper look at the climate crisis and see how Heal the Bay is pushing for systemic changes in California.

And while many of our usual activities have been put on hold until the threat of COVID-19 has subsided, we are still here with new virtual presentations, online events, blogs, and much more to help keep you informed and engaged.



Our Advancement Special Events Manager, Ines Ware, shares some handy sustainable shopping tips for this Earth Day.

Earth Day is around the corner (literally, it’s tomorrow) and what better way to celebrate than by implementing sustainable shopping practices into your daily life. One person may not be able to do everything but everyone can do something. Small, conscious decisions are like little acts of activism.

Not only does Heal the Bay work tirelessly to keep LA’s waterways clean and safe, protect public health, and educate our community, we are also excited to provide you with ideas to practice sustainability in your everyday life.

Heal the Bay has a brand new online shop with some great eco essentials. For instance, when you venture off to the grocery store instead of deciding between paper or plastic bring your own reusable bag. This will cut back on the oil extraction, polluting production, and massive amount of energy used to make new plastic bags and lower their harmful ocean ecosystem and marine health impacts too. And protect the trees! Goodbye, deforestation.

Speaking of grocery shopping, we all have to eat, right? If you are out and about for lunch, instead of using single-use plastics to eat your delicious to-go order, try bringing reusable bamboo utensils. Heal the Bay offers bamboo utensils that are easily cleaned and come in a neat carrying case. There are also great stainless steel straws that easily replace plastic straws.

Then, there’s the pesky bottled water with its own set of problems. Did you know that water bottles produce about 1.5 million tons of plastic waste each year? Most water bottles end up in the landfill or the ocean. Have no fear, get your paws on a reusable water bottle for when you need to hydrate on the go.

No matter the case, there are many sustainable and reusable options to combat Big Plastic. Check out Heal the Bay Shop to treat yourself or a loved one. We have Heal the Bay gear and items made from recycled materials, upcycled goods, jewelry inspired by the ocean, and home furnishings crafted by artisans worldwide.

Like what you see? Use the Earth Month or Earth Day discount code at checkout for great savings!

For every purchase from Heal the Bay Shop, a percentage of proceeds benefits Heal the Bay’s mission to protect our coastline, restore waterways, and speak out for smart water policy. 



Emily Parker, Coastal and Marine Scientist at Heal the Bay dives into how to fight Big Plastic from your living room during the COVID-19 pandemic while staying safe, protecting your community, and supporting struggling local businesses.

Update: California Governor Gavin Newsom temporarily suspends the statewide plastic bag ban on April 23, 2020 in response to inaccurate claims from the oil and plastics industries that disposable plastics are safer than reusable items, an untruth that creates unnecessary panic. We are alarmed that some of our elected leaders are listening to the oil and plastics industries at a time when our resources should be supporting our strained health care system, protecting essential employees, and providing assistance to vulnerable communities. We encourage Californians to bring reusable bags if your local store allows it and opt to bag yourself! If the store is not allowing reusable bags, refuse the plastic bags at checkout, bring your items outside in the cart, and bag there with your reusable bags.  Read our full statement.

It’s a Friday evening. Everyone across the city, the nation, the globe, is sheltering in place. Local businesses are suffering and I want to do the right thing and support them (plus, I’m hungry). So I order some noodles. They arrive at my doorstep, and they hit the spot, but the problem? They are packaged in a single-use plastic container. This is my dilemma, and I am not alone.

Plastic pollution advocates are all experiencing this same predicament: how do I stay safe, protect my community, and support struggling local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, all while still fighting Big Plastic (i.e. the plastics industry behemoth that includes plastic manufacturers, fossil fuel companies, and food conglomerates that all support the harmful production and disposal of single-use plastic products)?

Over the course of the past month, all of our lives in the US have changed drastically. Those who are fortunate enough to have a place to live are isolated in their homes, distanced from loved ones. More and more people fall ill every day, vulnerable communities are suffering disproportionately, and our governments and healthcare systems are pushed to the brink. Yet, all the while, Big Plastic does not sleep.

Behind the scenes, industry lobbyists from plastic corporations and fossil fuel companies are using the COVID-19 crisis as a front to push their agenda: make and sell more plastic. The result? Cities and states like San Francisco and New Hampshire have reversed their bans on plastic bags and the safety of reusable items has come into question causing delays for plastic bag bans in New York and Maine. All of this because an industrial conglomerate wants you to believe single-use plastic is less likely to make you sick (a claim with no un-biased evidence to back it up). So, what can we do about it?

Here are a few ways you can fight Big Plastic while sheltering in place:

1. Continue to support your local restaurants and prioritize those that choose sustainable alternatives for their take-out and delivery

Our friends at Surfrider Foundation have just the tool for you to keep ordering take-out and avoid the dirtiest plastics: Ocean Friendly Restaurants (OFR). This program works to stop plastic pollution at the source, and offers restaurants an easy way to show their commitment to making sustainable choices for our ocean. All OFR certified establishments make a commitment to reduce plastic waste through targets such as eliminating polystyrene (the worst plastic litter offender), only offering utensils and non-plastic straws on request, and not offering plastic bags. Use this handy map to find an Ocean Friendly Restaurant near you!

Don’t see your favorite spot? Call them up and politely ask if you can order your food with as little plastic packaging as possible. Keeping local businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic while reducing plastic waste IS possible!

2. Take extra care to avoid single-use plastics when buying your essentials and support refill systems when possible

With bulk bins taped over and reusable bags being turned away, even a simple trip to the market for essentials can seem overwhelming if you are avoiding single-use plastic. However, a little extra preparation and research can go a long way.

Bring along reusable produce bags and pack up your own produce to avoid the plastic packaged stuff. Look for pantry items packed in cardboard, tin and aluminum to avoid disposable plastic bags. Already an avid refill customer? Check with your local refill store and see if they have curbside pick-up or delivery options for cleaning, household, and personal care products while we shelter in place.

Finally, go easy on yourself. Now is the time to show compassion and, if you buy more single-use plastic than you would like, don’t despair. We are all doing our best and limited options may force our hand. Do try to clean and repurpose any plastic you may get as best as you can; Pinterest and YouTube have great tutorials on how to reuse single-use plastic items.

3. Use your voice and your vote to stand up to Big Plastic 

Stand with Heal the Bay and the Reusable LA Coalition as we take an active stance against Big Plastic’s fear mongering techniques to increase the production and sale of plastic during the COVID-19 pandemic. By supporting legislation such as the STOP Act of 2020, (a bill that would prohibit the Federal Administration from slashing royalty rates and giving away billions of dollars to fossil fuel companies) and continuing to push for local legislation that equitably reduces plastic use in Los Angeles County, Heal the Bay and our partners are working to ensure that Big Plastic and the fossil fuel industry do not benefit from a global crisis.

Every day, in the background of the growing pandemic, more fossil fuels are extracted and refined to produce disposable plastic products. This process directly impacts fenceline communities who live next to these operations and are exposed to higher levels of pollution; those same communities are also being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 virus. Those plastics then must be disposed of and with a broken recycling system, and more and more recycling programs being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, they are ending up in landfills and the environment.

Your voice MATTERS. Stand with us and tell Big Plastic they won’t get away with payoffs and rollbacks while our vulnerable communities continue to be impacted by plastic production. You can support these efforts by signing up as a Reusable LA supporter, making a financial contribution to Heal the Bay, or by signing our plastic petition. Follow Heal the Bay on social media or sign up for volunteer action alerts to stay in the know on our fight against Big Plastic and how you can take action from anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Use #fightplasticfromhome and let us know how you are continuing to fight Big Plastic and reduce your plastic consumption while sheltering in place. Together, we can reduce plastic pollution and keep our communities safe through this crisis and beyond.