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Heal the Bay Blog

Exciting advancements are happening right now when it comes to tackling the climate crisis. Global action continues to move forward with the Paris Climate Accord, as the US re-enters this agreement with a renewed focus on climate justice. California continues to push climate progress with legislation like SB467, which would ban the most dangerous types of oil drilling and fracking and introduce health and safety setbacks across the state. And right here in Southern California, the City of LA is finalizing plans to achieve 100% Clean Energy by 2035. But in each of these cases, the question remains: Are we doing enough? 

While we are excited about the progress that is being made globally and locally, we can still step back and question if our goals are robust enough to actually achieve climate resiliency and justice, if decision makers are doing what is necessary to achieve those goals, and if big industries (oil, gas, plastics, etc.) are being held accountable. 

Worldwide, we are spewing 152 million tons of human-made global warming pollution like CO2 into the thin shell of our atmosphere every day, causing average temperatures to rise and throwing natural processes off track. 

CO2 levels passed 420 parts per million (PPM) for the first time in April 2021. This unfortunate milestone means we’re halfway toward doubling pre-industrial CO2 levels.⁠ And, we are rapidly approaching the 1.5°C climate tipping point that makes it more difficult to sustain healthy natural systems. If we continue “business as usual” we are on a fast-track to double our CO2 levels by 2060, and the world will be 3°C warmer on average, which would mean significant food shortages, more intense droughts and wildfires, and more frequent deadly urban heat waves.⁠

⁠Oceans have helped to buffer this steady pollution stream by absorbing ¼ of our CO2 emissions, but this has wreaked havoc on our marine ecosystems with sea temperature rise and ocean acidification.⁠

Tackling the climate crisis is a massive undertaking and all these questions are difficult to know how to ask, let alone answer, which may leave many of us with climate anxiety, wondering what one single person can do.

But the truth is that we are not alone. Together, our actions can make huge waves. Whether you are starting with small changes at home, or playing your part in critical systemic change by signing petitions or calling political representatives, your actions play an essential role in this transformative time! 

Take the Climate Challenge

As we continue our struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of life in general, 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. 

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 throughout the year, and do what you can when you can with what you have. 

Here are some ideas to choose from to get you started with your personalized climate challenge…

Where We Live

  • Pick up trash around your neighborhood 
  • Ditch single-use plastic and switch to reusables at home
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle our waste – yes the order matters! 
  • 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 (and cost) 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
  • Support projects that improve access to alternative and active transportation 
  • 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 and give public comments at local Agency, City Council, or County Board of Supervisor meetings 
    • Send a letter to your representatives so they know climate action is important to you
    • Participate in public demonstrations and rallies
    • Sign petitions
    • 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 

Questions about any of these possible actions? Contact Annelisa Moe here at Heal the Bay for more information or support in your advocacy work!



The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board chose to delay clean water progress last month by extending the deadlines polluters have to reduce their stormwater pollution, up to 6.5 years in some cases. Their decision allows the continued discharge of pollutants from across LA to drain through our communities and into the Pacific Ocean.


On March 11, the LA Regional Water Board voted to extend nine water quality deadlines, which were set decades ago to improve water quality and protect the health of our communities and our ecosystems. This sends a dangerous message that it is ok to continue contaminating our neighborhoods, rivers, and ocean even after long-standing deadlines have passed us by.

The Clean Water Act of 1972 protects our rivers and oceans by limiting the amount of pollution that can be discharged into them. Under the Clean Water Act, a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) refers to the maximum amount of pollution that a waterbody can handle before people get sick or aquatic life is harmed. Environmental groups fought hard to make the Regional Water Boards start paying attention to TMDLs starting in the 1990s. 

There are 59 TMDLs in the Los Angeles Region for various contaminants (trash, bacteria, etc) polluting our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. Some have deadlines as late as 2038, so there is still time to meet those limits. Others are due this year, and some have already passed. These TMDL deadlines were set decades ago with lengthy timelines that gave dischargers (called “permittees”) many years, in some cases nearly 20 years, to achieve these pollution limits. The deadlines were developed through extensive negotiations with all stakeholders. Heal the Bay and concerned community members from all over the County showed up at Regional Water Board hearings to demand pollution limits and clean water. At that time, we celebrated these TMDLs and believed our regulators would finally hold polluters accountable for meeting them.

Unfortunately, permittees are far behind schedule in reducing polluted discharges, as Heal the Bay reported back in 2019 in our Stormwater Report. Last year, the LA Regional Water Board confirmed this trend of very slow progress, reporting that only 6.6% of required pollution reduction projects were completed in the areas that received deadline extensions. The lack of measurability and accountability within the Stormwater Permit allowed this slow progress to go unnoticed for years. When it was finally daylighted, the LA Regional Water Board did nothing to correct it. 

As a result, there are several TMDLs with imminent deadlines that will not be met, and others that are well past due. Because of the extremely slow progress over the last 20 years, permittees are complaining that these ~20-year deadlines are now unrealistic, and have requested 10+ years of extra time! It seems they feel no urgency to clean up our community’s waterways.

Meanwhile, water quality suffers. You can see that by checking California’s List of Impaired Waters, where 208 waterbodies in the LA Region are listed as polluted by multiple contaminants. You can see it in UCLA’s 2019 Water Report Card, which assigned LA surface waters a dismal grade of D/Incomplete. You can see it in Heal the Bay’s River Report Card when bacteria still plagues our rivers even during dry weather, and in our Beach Report Card when grades across the board plummet during wet weather. There are other reports that tell a similar story, and we have yet to see any report that tells a different one. LA’s water is contaminated, stormwater is the primary source of that pollution, and no one is being held accountable for cleaning it up.

The recent hearing on TMDL deadline extensions was contentious. After much discussion, three of the seven Board Members voted to provide the 10 year extensions requested by permittees. But the majority of Board Members favored shorter extensions, and spoke powerfully in favor of clean water protection and environmental justice. In the end, they voted to approve extensions for nine TMDLs ranging from 1.5-6.5 years, rather than 10 or more years. While any extension delays progress towards achieving clean water, shorter extensions at least reign in further delays to achieving clean water.

Four of the Board Members also asked for better accountability from permittees, so we don’t end up right back here two decades from now, with poor water quality, wishing more had been done. Clear accountability can only be achieved through a strong Stormwater Permit. Unfortunately, our analysis of the Stormwater Permit clearly shows that the kind of accountability requested by the Board Members does not currently exist. 

One bright spot: the Stormwater Permit is up for renewal later this year, meaning we have a chance to make it better. We are asking Regional Water Board staff and Board Members to support clear, numeric pollution limits so we can hold permittees accountable to actually meet the new deadlines, because everyone in LA County deserves safe, clean water. 

Together we can Take LA By Storm to demand clear, measurable, and enforceable goals in the 2021 MS4 Permit. Sign up for emails to stay informed of the process and how you can take part!

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This month, through our Angler Outreach Program, we’re spotlighting Seal Beach Pier in Orange County.

Seal Beach Pier, located in Orange County, is one of the longest wooden piers in California. It was built at the beginning of the last century and has suffered damages caused by storms and a fire in 2016 that destroyed the restaurant located at the end of the pier. Fortunately, most of the pier was saved from the flames.

Like the rest of California’s public piers, fishing at the Seal Beach Pier is free. A fishing license is not required, but fishing regulations must be followed regarding the size and species that can be caught.

The pier is open to the public from 6am to 10pm, and has amenities for anglers including areas to clean fish, trash cans to deposit the waste, and specific receptacles for used fishing lines to prevent animal entanglement and pollution issues in the ocean. Anglers enjoy the pier individually or with friends and family members, bringing their own food and chairs to enjoy fishing and a day at the beach. During the weekends you can often observe entire families enjoying a day of fishing.

At Seal Beach Pier it is very common to catch corbina, perch, mackerel, topsmelt, and halibut. It’s even possible to see sharks! I have also seen how anglers work as a team – experienced anglers often readily share their bait with first-timers so that everyone can enjoy a good fishing day.

Seal Beach Pier is within the red zone, where the consumption of white croaker, barred sand bass, black croaker, topsmelt and barracuda should be avoided due to their high levels of toxins such as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Signs on the pier list these five fish as contaminated.

People who regularly eat fish caught near the contaminated areas face greater health risks because of prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals such as DDT and PCBs.

Due to COVID-19, Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program has suspended its educational activities at this pier. But once the health authorities allow it, we will return to the pier to educate pier anglers about the risk of consuming contaminated fish from the nearby superfund site at Palos Verdes Peninsula. Stay up to date on our Angler Outreach Program by checking out our latest blog posts.


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Seal Beach Pier, ubicado en el condado de Orange, es uno de los muelles de madera más largos de California. Fue construido a principios del siglo pasado y ha sufrido daños provocados por tormentas y un incendio en 2016 que destruyó un restaurante ubicado al final del muelle. Afortunadamente, la mayor parte del muelle se salvó de las llamas.

Al igual que el resto de los muelles públicos de California, la pesca en Seal Beach Pier es gratuita. No se requiere una licencia de pesca, pero se deben seguir sus regulaciones con respecto al tamaño y especies de peces que se pueden capturar.

El muelle está abierto al público de 6 a.m. a 10 p.m. y cuenta con comodidades que incluyen áreas para limpiar pescados, botes de basura para los desechos y receptáculos para desechar hilos de pesca usados para evitar enredos con animales y problemas de contaminación en el océano. Los pescadores disfrutan del muelle individualmente o con amigos y familiares, trayendo su propia comida y sillas para disfrutar de la pesca y cerca de la playa. Durante los fines de semana, a menudo se puede observar a familias enteras disfrutando de un día de pesca.

En Seal Beach Pier es muy común pescar corbinas, mojarras, macarelas, pejerrey y lenguados. A veces es posible ver tiburones. También he observado cómo los pescadores trabajan en equipo y a veces comparten sus cebos cuando alguien va a pescar por primera vez. Los pescadores experimentados comparten fácilmente su cebo para que todos puedan tener un buen día de pesca. 

Seal Beach Pier se encuentra dentro de la zona roja, donde se debe evitar el consumo de corvineta blanca, cabrilla, corvineta negra, pejerrey y barracuda debido a sus altos niveles de toxinas como dicloro-difenil-tricloroetano (DDT) y bifenilos policlorados (PCB). Los letreros en el muelle señalan a estos cinco peces como contaminados.

Las personas que consumen regularmente peces capturados cerca de las áreas contaminadas enfrentan mayores riesgos para la salud debido a la exposición prolongada a sustancias químicas tóxicas como el DDT y los PCB.

Debido a COVID-19, el Programa Educacional Pesquero de Heal the Bay ha suspendido sus actividades educativas en este muelle. Pero una vez que las autoridades de salud lo permitan, regresaremos al muelle para educar a los Pescadores sobre el riesgo de consumir pescado contaminado que vienen del sitio Superfund cercano a la península de Palos Verdes. Manténte informado sobre nuestro Programa Educacional Pesquero consultando nuestras últimas publicaciones en el blog.


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Usually this time of year, we are hosting our annual volunteer party (and eating donuts!) to celebrate Super Healers – an elite squad of Heal the Bay volunteers who have gone above and beyond. Even though we still can’t gather, we still can recognize and thank our volunteers. Let’s celebrate our 2021 Super Healers!

The past year was full of adversity and challenges. As our physical doors closed in March of 2020, Heal the Bay’s work never stopped. Even during times of uncertainty, it was no surprise that our connected and passionate community of volunteers continued to help out in a big way.

Although we are unable to gather all together for our annual volunteer recognition party, all of the staff at Heal the Bay felt it of the utmost importance to recognize the people we so greatly rely on to keep our ship smoothly sailing. From the depth of the ocean, we thank each and every one of of volunteers for your dedication and support.

Aquarium Aquarist Volunteers: Rachel Watson, Nadya Sharif, CJ Leede, and Elina Babay

The 2020 pandemic led to the Heal the Bay offices closing and the Heal the Bay Aquarium closing its doors to the public. However, during this time of masks and social distancing, there was one population that remained unaffected and (clearly) flippant about any of these health regulations – the fishes, crabs, sea stars, and local aquatic species of the Santa Monica Bay housed at Heal the Bay Aquarium. Despite LA County closures, these incredible animals still required daily care and support by the essential workers of Heal the Bay. With such strict limitations, it is without a doubt that we were able to uphold such world class care because of an All-Star team of volunteers that fared the tumultuous seas to help out. Rachel Watson, Nadya Sharif, CJ Leede, and Elina Babay deserve the highest recognition and Giant Squid sized gratitude for their dedication, hard work and passion in supporting the livelihood of the animals at Heal the Bay Aquarium. On behalf of Heal the Bay, myself (Laura Rink – Associate Director of Ops), and all the fishes of the deep blue sea, we give great thanks and appreciation.

Education Volunteers: Laura Schare and Crystal Sandoval

Extra special thanks to our rock star Education volunteers, Laura Schare and Crystal Sandoval (also a past intern), for continuously providing support from in-person field trips at the beginning of the year, through virtual camp programs, and now virtual field trips. Laura also helped put together and deliver one of our Knowledge Drops presentations on Community Science. She helped teach about iNaturalist, the City Nature Challenge, and how community science can help inspire everyday people to learn more about nature and science in genera.

Beach Programs: Club Heal the Bay at Santa Monica High School

Club Heal the Bay at SAMOHI is a student-led club dedicated to protect the health of our local shoreline and watersheds. Steps they’ve taken toward this goal include conducting beach cleanups, discussing the reduction of their carbon footprints, fundraising for reusable sanitary products, informing students about sorting out waste, and advocating for a stronger MS4 permit.

MPA Watch: John Wells

Since joining Heal the Bay’s MPA Watch Program in February 2020, John has conducted over 140 MPA Watch surveys, accounting for nearly HALF the total surveys completed last year! We are so grateful and fortunate to have this increased attention to our MPAs at a time when we have an exceptional need to record unprecedented changes in human recreational and consumptive behavior in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you so much John for your contribution, we couldn’t have done it without you!

A little more about this All Star:
John Wells has lived in four states, two of which are located near the ocean: Arizona, California, New York, and Colorado. When everyone else was moving in the opposite direction, John moved back to Los Angeles from Colorado Springs upon retirement in 2018. He earned degrees in Biochemistry from Cal State LA and UCLA, and ever the environmentalist, he worked as a chemical analyst measuring EPA Priority Pollutants in the 1980’s. More recently he explored careers in grounds and building maintenance and instruction in school bus driving. Due to a love of hiking and the great outdoors, the MPA Watch program is a natural fit for him, and the MPA Watch program remains an excellent source of safe, outdoor activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. He doesn’t consider performing MPA Watch survey’s a “work,” as he greatly enjoys doing them.

Speakers Bureau: David A. Weeshoff

After retiring in 2005, Dave became a volunteer at International Bird Rescue in San Pedro, CA where he assists in the care of sick and injured aquatic birds and directly observes the impacts of poor water quality on their health.

In February 2006, he joined the Speaker’s Bureau to address ocean pollution issues with audiences ranging from pre-school through adults, and has done so for over 21,000 people. He was a Regional Stakeholder and helped design the Marine Protected Areas off the Southern California coast.

He has traveled to the Arctic, Antarctic, and many other bird habitats worldwide, and shares his photos including penguins, whales, turtles, and polar bears with audiences to highlight the impacts of pollution on our natural world.

  • Site Captain each Coastal Cleanup Day 2015 through 2020
  • Awarded SuperHealer Award for 2006
  • Awarded Jean Howell Award 2009

Science & Policy: Michelle Allen


Michelle Allen has been crucial in maintaining momentum for our LA River camera trapping project in partnership with SAMO and the NPS in 2020 and again in 2021. A dedicated volunteer, Michelle began with Heal the Bay in 2018 as part of the summer Stream Team where they collected water quality samples at two sites in Malibu with another exceptional Heal the Bay volunteer, Christina Huggs. The two made a great community science team and went on to explore another Heal the Bay science program, wildlife camera trapping along the LA River! Again, Michelle’s reliability and enthusiasm for science shown bright to keep our data collection going, even during the most unprecedented times. You are truly a pleasure to work with Michelle and we couldn’t have done it without you! We are so grateful and you continue to make such a positive impression on so many of us at Heal the Bay.

A little more about this All Star:
Starting as a student at CSUN, Michelle worked at Heal the Bay during the summer seasons under Dr. Katherine Pease on the  Stream Team program collecting samples for water quality in the Malibu Creek area for the River Report card. Now finished with her B.S. in Environmental and Occupational Health and a minor in Sustainability, she works part time and interns for Food and Water Watch on the Take Back the Tap program. She is a Fellow and works with a few different schools all around the country to ban single-use plastic bottles on campuses. Michelle wants to make as much a difference in her community and get as involved in any way in all things environmental. In her free time, she loves to run, dance, go on long hikes, and spend time with loved ones whenever she can. Podcasts are what she listens to while she cleans her house. And, her very cute fluffy kitty’s name is Tamale.

Shout out to those volunteer educators who led or co-led our some of our Knowledge Drop sessions! Stiv Wilson, Dave Weeshoff, Shona Ganguly, Tom Ford, Dana Muray, John Dorsey, Laura Schare, and Brook Peterson.

Meet last year’s Super Healers.



Heal the Bay and Assembly Member Richard Bloom Introduce Legislation to Protect Public Health at Freshwater Swimming and Recreation Sites in California

Twenty-four years ago, the California Legislature took an important step forward in protecting public health at ocean beachesAB411, authored by Assembly Members Howard Wayne (San Diego) and Debra Bowen (South Bay), established statewide water quality standards, required standard monitoring protocols, and set uniform mandatory public notification procedures in place during poor water quality events. Prior to AB411, ocean-goers did not have access to water quality information leaving them vulnerable to serious illnesses such as stomach flu, respiratory illness and debilitating ear, nose, and throat infections, which are contracted from fecal contamination in the water.  

AB411 requires weekly water quality monitoring from April 1 to October 31 as well as public notification of water quality conditions for beaches where annual visitation is 50,000 or greater or that are near storm drainsHeal the Bay was the primary sponsor for this bill, and our Beach Report Cardstarted in 1991, helped grow support for it. AB411 is still the guiding piece of legislation for recreational water quality monitoring in California. Unfortunately, freshwater swimming and recreation areas are not regulated or monitored consistently in the same way that ocean beaches are. California has fecal pollution standards for freshwater, but monitoring for that pollution is lacking. Many swimming holes across the State are not tested for water quality, and for those that are, the monitoring and public notification protocols are not consistent statewide.  

Rivers, lakes, and streams are popular areas where people swim, fish, kayak, wade, raft, and more. And for many people who do not live near the coast or for whom the coast is not easily accessible, these are the areas where they go to cool off and enjoy time with friends and family, and have a good time. People who visit freshwater swimming holes should be provided with the same protections that ocean beachgoers are given. People deserve to know if they might be exposed to fecal pollution so that they can adequately protect themselves. We are thrilled to announce that Assembly Member Richard Bloom, in partnership with Heal the Bay, has introduced legislation to address this public health disparity, AB1066 

AB1066 is the latest effort from Heal the Bay on addressing this issue. In 2014, Heal the Bay began monitoring freshwater recreation sites and providing that information to the public. We also began aggregating freshwater monitoring data from throughout LA County starting in 2017. This grew into our River Report Card (RRC), a free and publicly accessible website with updated water quality information throughout the greater LA region. Similar to the Beach Report Card, we have been using the RRC to advocate for increased monitoring and better water quality notifications across LA County. However, we want to take this to the next step and ensure people across the whole state have access to consistent water quality information that can help keep them safe.  

AB1066 would:  

  • Establish a definition for a freshwater recreation site based on frequency of use and identify sites state-wide to be monitored; 
  • Require weekly monitoring from Memorial Day to Labor Day for freshwater recreation sites by the owner/operator using a standardized protocol and metrics;  
  • Require public notification online and through signage for hazardous water quality conditions. 

 “I am pleased to author AB1066 to address a key public health challenge that many Californians face in outdoor recreation– ensuring there are science and health based bacterial standards, ongoing water quality monitoring, and public notification for freshwater bathing where needed.

California is a magnificent state and one that affords all our communities with opportunities to recreate outdoors. Our lakes, rivers and streams should be enjoyed by residents throughout the state, but we need to ensure that their public health is protected while doing so.” 

-Assembly Member Richard Bloom 

The protections in AB1066 are long overdue and were afforded to ocean beaches nearly 25 years ago. Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed on our work and ways to get involved.



Image by Maja7777

Heal the Bay Intern, Yamileth Urias, explores the nuances of a classic environmental slogan. 

As children, we are taught to reduce, reuse, and recycle. At some point in our lives, many forget about the first two R’s, reduce and reuse, and mostly rely on the last R– recycle. As plastic pollution becomes an increasingly alarming issue, we must not forget to reduce and reuse. Here is why that order matters. 

How is plastic produced and why should we be worried?

We consume food and water in containers made from fossil fuels! Yes, that’s right. Plastic is made from oil and natural gas. Through polymerization, resins are created, which allows plastics to be molded and shaped under heat and pressure. This video further explains the plastic production process.

Oil and gas industries have only become more powerful in the last century since fossil fuels are crucial in the creation of plastics. Not only do we rely on oil and gas companies for transportation, energy, and heating, but also plastic. However, the fossil fuel industry has encountered a challenge — electric vehicles and renewable energy resources like solar power.  As we become more aware of the exploitation of natural resources like fossil fuels, we have made changes to remedy the situation. With the rise of electric and hybrid vehicles and alternative energy sources, the demand for fossil fuel has decreased, causing oil and gas industries to turn to and invest more in new plastic production. New plastic production is cheaper than using recycled plastics due to weakened oil prices. According to a study by Carbon Tracker, the oil industry plans to spend $400 billion on new plastic and less than $2 billion in reducing plastic waste over the next five years. 

The drastic gap in investments in virgin plastic and effort to reduce plastic waste has created a monster that is becoming more difficult to control. Corporations are producing more plastic despite knowing that most of it will not be recycled. According to a 2017 study, we have created 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste since 1950. Only 10% of all plastic waste has ever been recycled. This means that over 90% of plastic produced is waste that ends up polluting our environment, our water, and eventually items we consume. This is why using recycling as our only means to fight plastic pollution simply will not work. 

Recycling allows for the continued creation of plastics. The best solution is to reduce plastic use in order to stop the harmful effects plastic has on us, our communities, and the environment. We need a permanent solution that will help us transition from relying on plastic to drastically reducing our plastic use.


Image by
meineresterampe 

Reduce first! 

There are several issues with recycling.

  1. There is simply too much plastic produced and we cannot recycle our way out of it. A significant amount of this plastic is single-use plastic that cannot be recycled. 99% of cutlery and plastic plates do not meet the standards to be recycled.
  2. Most of the items we try to recycle are not recycled. Studies have found that only 9% of all plastics produced are recycled.
  3. Plastics are not infinitely recyclable. They are downcycled, meaning it cannot be made into the same thing, unlike glass and aluminum. Each time material is repurposed, it becomes a lower quality that will eventually lose its ability to be recycled. 

For these reasons, the best solution is to reduce our plastic use.  One of the best ways is to reduce the use of single-use plastics. Out of approximately 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic produced, 40% are single-use products like plastic bags and cutlery. By reducing our use of plastic, we also reduce the demand for it. In order to fully make our efforts effective, we must reduce our individual plastic-use and pressure companies to change their harmful practices.

Reuse materials around the home

Our lives are not completely plastic-free. We all have plastic items in our homes, and the pandemic has only increased our plastic use. That is okay! If you must use packaging or single-use products, you can always choose a more eco-friendly option that is biodegradable. This includes FSC-certified paper, wheat straw or locally-sourced materials.  

However, that may not always be an option. It is also important to point out that sustainable products can be expensive. Not everyone can afford to keep buying $50 reusable bottles and filters because the water in their neighborhood is not safe to drink. This is why reusing is the next best action to partake in. You can continue with your plastic-reduction efforts by reusing and repurposing plastics you currently own before disposing of them. This can be done by using a plastic tub of butter to store other food items in your fridge. Another popular usage for plastic containers includes storing away things around your homes like a sewing kit or hair ties and pins. Other items like old toothbrushes can be used as tools to clean hard-to-reach surfaces. There are many ways to get creative and upcycle plastic products you currently own. 

Recycle when there is no other alternative

Simply because there are better alternatives to recycling does not mean that we should stop all recycling efforts. According to a study by Pew Trusts, the plastic in our oceans is expected to nearly triple from 11 million tonnes to 29 million tonnes in the next 20 years. Plastic pollution has rapidly increased over the years and it will only get worse in the next couple of decades. This means that over the next 20 summers, oceans will become increasingly more polluted affecting wildlife and the coastal environment as we know it. The plastic pollution crisis is so big that any effort is better than no effort. 

It is also important to point out that the world is a unique situation that has disrupted plastic reduction efforts. People all over the world increased their plastic use due to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 briefly helped the environment by reducing transportation emissions, but it also caused long-term damages with the massive increase in plastic use. Consumption of single-use plastic increased somewhere between 250-300% during COVID-19. Almost 30% of this spike in single-use plastic is attributed to personal protective equipment (PPE). There is nothing wrong with being cautious and looking out for one’s health, so if reducing or reusing plastic is not an option, the next best thing is to recycle when possible. With that in mind, it is crucial to practice plastic reduction efforts in a hierarchical order. Click here for more ideas on how to reuse and recycle items around your home. 


Image by
Nareeta Martin

What you can do to help

One simple way to reduce plastic use starts with takeout. Next time you are ordering takeout, consider requesting no plastic cutlery or drinking your beverage without a straw and using utensils from home instead. You can also take action by supporting the takeout extras on-request initiative. Due to COVID-19, takeout orders have increased and so has the use of single-use plastic. Sign the petition asking legislators to support #SkipTheStuff. You can also take action by sending an email to DoorDash to #CutOutCutlery. Through this campaign, we can encourage food delivery apps to change their default plastic cutlery option and move to a request-based option.

For more guidance on how you can repurpose and recycle items around your home, conduct a waste audit. This guide on waste audits is the perfect way to reevaluate your home waste, plastic usage and find creative ways to repurpose items. It’s the perfect activity just in time for spring cleaning that will also keep you busy during the quarantine. 

 


 About the author

Yamileth is a graduating senior at the University of Southern California studying public relations and political science. Her internship with Heal the Bay communications encompasses branding, research and social media. Growing up in a coastal town sparked her passion for environmental conservation, environmental justice and marine life protection. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting with recipes, gardening and sewing.

 



En 2021, vamos a abordar una de las grandes amenazas para nuestras aguas costeras y cuencas fluviales en Los Angeles y sus alrededores. Los siguientes tres objetivos representan las áreas clave del enfoque de este año:

Acción climática urgente

Qué estamos haciendo: Estamos pasando a la acción de forma urgente, por el clima y para empoderar a la gente, demandando cambios sistémicos, y defendiendo soluciones con múltiples beneficios que nos muevan a todos hacia un futuro más equitativo, sostenible y resiliente ante el cambio climático.

Cómo lo estamos haciendo: La crisis climática debe ser ralentizada, o las comunidades sufrirán más impactos negativos y habrá muchas pérdidas. A nivel nacional, necesitamos recobrar las políticas medioambientales rápidamente para recuperar la protección del océano, los ríos y las marismas, así como los recursos acuáticos ratificando la Ley de Agua Limpia. De forma local, apoyamos las soluciones basadas en la naturaleza para proteger las comunidades de la subida del mar, la erosión y las marejadas ciclónicas; abogar por la limpieza de los drenajes pluviales a través de espacios verdes con múltiples beneficios; y demandar una transición equitativa hacia las energías renovables. El Acuario de Heal the Bay trabaja directamente con nuestra comunidad, involucrando a los estudiantes y al público a través de la acción climática y las iniciativas educativas.

Proteger la salud pública con ciencia y divulgación

Qué estamos haciendo: Protegiendo la salud de la gente y el ecosistema a través de una educación  sobre las aguas contaminadas, los peces, y los sedimentos en nuestras playas, ríos y litoral, basada en la ciencia, la divulgación y la defensa.

Cómo lo estamos haciendo: El agua limpia y segura y los espacios verdes accesibles son fundamentales para la salud pública. Heal the Bay empuja a los líderes del gobierno a proteger a la gente en las áreas recreativas acuáticas de LA con nuevas leyes sobre la salud pública. Nuestras tarjetas-reporte de las playas, NowCast y las tarjetas-reporte del río están expandiéndose en alcance y rigor científico. Hacemos responsables a los contaminadores corporativos y las agencias públicas por el vertido de DDT en nuestra costa y concienciamos sobre la peligrosa contaminación en LA. El Acuario de Heal the Bay empodera estudiantes y familias usando tanto operaciones, como un curriculum educacional sobre las cuencas, usando narrativas acerca de la salud de las personas.

Prohibir el uso de plásticos de un solo uso de una vez por todas

Qué estamos haciendo: Eliminar la dañina polución plástica de nuestro océano y cuencas fluviales para defender la vitalidad de nuestras comunidades.

Cómo lo estamos haciendo: El legado tóxico de nuestra producción de plástico y desechos impacta nuestro día a día. Heal the Bay apoya el veto de productos desechables que dañan nuestros vecindarios y hábitats silvestres. Apoyamos la legislación para reducir y prohibir plásticos de usar y tirar en la ciudad de Los Angeles, el condado de Los Angeles, y California. Nuestro objetivo inmediato es pasar las ordenanzas locales para Dejar el Desperdicio en Los Angeles en 2021. A largo plazo, estamos poniendo los cimientos para una legislación estatal y una iniciativa para votar en 2022: una California libre de plásticos. El Acuario de Heal the Bay está inspirando el apoyo con el lanzamiento de nuevas exposiciones sobre la polución plástica y también educando acerca de su conexión con los combustibles fósiles.


Actúe

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Adopte una playa

Vea las novedades de nuestro acuario

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We’re celebrating International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month by shining the spotlight on five environmentalists who inspire us.

Women of color are impacted by environmental issues like water pollution and climate change impacts at disproportionate rates as a result of systemic inequity and injustice.1 Racism and a lack of access to education, economic status, and health resources often leave women and people of color out of the conversations and decisions that impact them the most, specifically about land use, natural resources, and environmental policy.

Despite these challenges, women of color continue to create powerful and lasting change in their own communities and abroad.

We thank the environmentalists and activists who continue to fight for what is right despite facing opposition for their bold ideas and for simply being who they are. Women and girls are leaders in their communities and agents of change. Supporting and listening to them will benefit the health of our planet and people for generations to come.

Get to know five environmentalists who have an inspiring legacy of activism.

Wangari Maathai (1940 – 2011), Kenya

Founder of the Green Belt Movement, which has planted over 51 million trees, Professor Maathai focused on environmental conservation and women’s rights. She studied biology in her undergraduate and graduate school programs and later won the Nobel Peace Prize for her vast contributions to sustainable development.

 

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Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores (1971 – 2016), Honduras

Berta Cáceres was an indigenous environmental justice activist and grassroots leader who created the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH) in Honduras. She fought courageously against illegal and harmful mining and logging as well as the construction of a dam that would cut off water, food and medicine for the indigenous Lenca people. Cáceres Flores was tragically murdered in 2016, sparking international outrage. The Cáceres family continues to demand justice for this corrupt violation of human rights. 2

 

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Isatou Ceesay (b. 1972), The Gambia

Isatou Ceesay is known as the Queen of Recycling in The Gambia, and rightfully so. Though she was kept from finishing school, she created the Njai Recycling and Income Generation Group, which turns plastic bag waste into purses, creating revenue streams for local women. Ceesay also educates and empowers women through environmental advocacy.

 

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Winona LaDuke (b. 1959), White Earth Indian Reservation

Founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project and Honor the Earth, LaDuke is an environmentalist and political activist with Indigenous communities. She focuses on sustainable development, renewable energy, climate change, and environmental justice. The White Earth Land Recovery Project is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the United States dedicated to recovering original land and maintaining tribal food, water, and energy rights. Follow Winona on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Vanessa Nakate (b. 1996), Uganda

Vanessa Nakate founded The Rise Up Movement and uses her voice and platform to share stories about activists in Africa who are striking due to inaction against the climate crisis. Recently, she spoke at the COP25 event in Spain (the United Nations Climate Change Conference) and joined dozens of youth climate activists from around the world to publish a letter to attendees of the World Economic Forum in Davos urging them to take immediate steps to prevent further harm. Follow Vanessa on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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About the author: Mariana Estrada is a digital advocacy intern at Heal the Bay. She grew up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles where she enjoys a lively community of close-knit families and great food. She became interested in environmental issues like air quality at an unusually young age due to living in the city. Estrada’s area of focus is combining humanities and environmental issues to create effective and meaningful storytelling that renders real results. She studies English Literature and double-minors in Environmental Systems and Society and Environmental Engineering at UCLA.

1 Gender and climate change-induced migration: Proposing a framework for analysis. Author Namrata Chindarkar. Published by School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, College Park, USA. Published on 22 June 2012. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254496452_Gender_and_climate_change-induced_migration_Proposing_a_framework_for_analysis
2 Berta Cáceres: 2015 Goldman Prize Recipient South and Central America. Published by The Goldman Environmental Prize. Retrieved from https://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/berta-caceres/



Funcionarios electos de Los Angeles están tomando acción legislativa para reducir la basura que se genera con la comida para llevar tras un gran incremento en el consumo del plástico de un solo uso. ¿Pero qué significa “Deja el desperdicio”? ¿Y cómo ayuda a luchar contra la contaminación por plástico? Vamos a verlo.

Deja el desperdicio es el último empujón legislativo de Heal the Bay junto a la coalición Reusable LA. #DejaElDesperdicio requeriría que los extras de la comida para llevar y a domicilio — como los utensilios de un solo uso, popotes, condimentos, servilletas y demás — fuesen facilitados a petición del usuario. Si los necesita, los puede tener. Y si no, no hace falta desperdiciar.

Añada su nombre a la petición

El consumo de plástico de un solo uso se ha disparado debido al COVID-19, incluyendo aquí en Los Angeles, donde nuestros queridos restaurantes locales se han visto forzados a depender principalmente de los pedidos para llevar y a domicilio. El consumo de plásticos de un solo uso se ha incrementado entre un 250% y un 300% desde que comenzó la pandemia, con un aumento de un 30% de basura atribuido en parte a utensilios de usar y tirar. En toda la nación, billones de accesorios para la comida se tiran cada año, muchos sin haberse utilizado siquiera. (Muchos de nosotros incluso los guardamos en el temido cajón de los extras, esperando utilizarlos algún día).

La amplia mayoría de estos objetos de un solo uso no se pueden reciclar. Suman a la crisis de basura plástica, ensucian nuestros vecindarios, ríos, el océano, y atascan los vertederos. El uso de combustibles fósiles para producir objetos de plástico que ni siquiera se usan es lo último que necesitamos durante una crisis climática. Estos efectos también presentan problemas de justicia medioambiental, con las comunidades en primera línea sufriendo desproporcionadamente por el cambio climático, la extracción de crudo, y la incineración asociada a plásticos de un solo uso.

Heal the Bay y Reusable LA están abogando por legislar #DejaElDesperdicio en la ciudad y el condado de Los Angeles. En Enero de 2021, los miembros del consejo de la ciudad de Los Angeles Paul Koretz y Paul Krekorian introdujeron una moción para un borrador de ley para #DejaElDesperdicio. Requeriría que en los casos de comida para llevar, servicio a domicilio o servicios de entrega a domicilios de terceros, todos los accesorios estuvieran disponibles únicamente bajo petición. La Junta de Supervisores del Condado de Los Angeles siguió el ejemplo y en Febrero de 2021 pasó una moción similar de forma unánime tras ser introducida por Sheila Kuehl, miembro de la junta.

Esta legislación reconoce que los miembros de la comunidad pueden necesitar pajitas/ popotes/pajillas, utensilios y / u otros accesorios para alimentos de un solo uso. Es crucial que los restaurantes y las aplicaciones de entrega de terceros promuevan y brinden opciones para todos. Este modelo “a pedido” está estructurado intencionalmente para cumplir con todos los requisitos y adaptaciones de la ADA para garantizar un acceso equitativo para disfrutar fácilmente de comidas en el lugar, comida para llevar o entregas en los restaurantes de Los Ángeles. Según esta ordenanza, las empresas pueden proporcionar accesorios para alimentos a los clientes que los soliciten.

Restaurantes y aplicaciones de entrega a domicilio deberían por defecto, no entregar accesorios de un solo uso para los pedidos, a menos que el cliente los solicite. Cambiar a este modelo de accesorios “bajo pedido” elimina basura innecesaria y ahorra dinero a los establecimientos. Los Angeles ha hecho esto antes con los popotes bajo pedido. En un momento en el que los negocios pequeños y los restaurantes están luchando por mantenerse a flote, esta es una solución simple para recortar costes excesivos y contaminación por plástico. Apoyamos estas ordenanzas porque son una solución donde todos ganan, las comunidades de LA, los negocios y el medioambiente.

Contamos con su apoyo para pasar esta ordenanza, así que pase a la acción mediante los enlaces de aquí abajo y manténgase a la escucha para más novedades de #DejaElDesperdicio.

Pase a la acción!

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