Heal the Bay Blog

Reflecting on a Year of Progress

Heal the Bay achieved significant accomplishments in 2023 in safeguarding our waters, preserving biodiversity, and raising awareness about the importance of environmental conservation.   Through our collective efforts and with your unwavering support, we worked tirelessly to create cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable coastal waters and watersheds for Los Angeles and beyond from summit to sea. As we reflect on the achievements of this past year, we are thrilled to carry this momentum into the coming year, always aiming to make a lasting difference. Celebrate them with us!  

2023 Highlights   

Our expertise was sought after, and our work was celebrated.  

In 2023, Heal the Bay was honored for decades of commitment to the environment. 

  • The City of Los Angeles officially declared October 20, 2023 “Heal the Bay Day in LA” in recognition of nearly four decades of accomplishments including the 20th anniversary of our Angler Outreach Program as well as our Aquarium.    
  • The 3rd Annual Heal the Bay One Water symposium was convened at Will Rogers State Beach, establishing Heal the Bay as a thought leader among civil engineers, water conservation experts, and local, county, and state legislators.  
  • Heal the Bay was officially appointed to the LA 28 Environmental Sustainability Committee for the 2028 Summer Olympics. 


The future of our planet starts with better environmental policy. 

Heal the Bay played a pivotal role in successfully advancing policies and legislation for the benefit of water quality, affordability, and coastal ecosystems to ensure a more sustainable Los Angeles region and climate-resilient California.    

  • Heal the Bay, co-sponsored Assembly Bill 1572 (Friedman) alongside the NRDC and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District. This new law bans the use of drinking water to irrigate non-functional (purely ornamental) turf on governmental and commercial landscapes; and is expected to save the equivalent amount of water that 780,000 households use in a year.  
  • Heal the Bay advocated for water quality protection at the Boeing Santa Susana Field Laboratory site in Simi Valley. The Los Angeles Regional Water Board voted in October to keep regulations on surface water that flows from this previous industrial site, keeping stringent water quality limits, adding more monitoring, and addressing the potential for surface water pollution to impact groundwater, a huge win in the ongoing battle for water quality protection. 
  • Our policy team worked to legally strengthen and streamline fishing regulations to make fishery enforcement more equitable through Assembly Bill 1611 (Lowenthal). This new Heal the Bay sponsored law was supported by conservationists and fishery regulatory agencies alike as a win-win for both nature and the fishing community.   
  • Heal the Bay co-authored a new (and well-received) Vision 2045 Report and shared it with LA County decision-makers who are tasked with overseeing the ambitious Safe, Clean, Water Program (SCWP). This collaborative “vision” laid out a roadmap of bolder goals, and recommendations to more quickly and definitively reach 2045 SCWP targets.   


It Takes a Very Large Village.    

This year Heal the Bay published its first Volunteer Impact Report highlighting the accomplishments of our 22,017 volunteers from the 2022 season, which paved the way for the many volunteer successes of 2023. 

  • In 2023, Heal the Bay volunteers collected more than 22,000 pounds of trash and contributing 71,048 hours to protecting our precious watershed and coastal waters!  
  • In September, Heal the Bay mobilized 7,337 volunteers on Coastal Cleanup Day, removing 16,211 pounds of trash (including 429 pounds of recyclables) from greater Los Angeles coastlines and waterways. 


Sticking a Fork in Plastic at the Source  

Recognizing the urgent need to combat plastic pollution, Heal the Bay continues impactful campaigns encouraging individuals and businesses to adopt sustainable practices.  For several years, staff has been working with LA City and County to help create legislation aiming to break the harmful plastic cycle.   By advocating for reducing single-use plastics and promoting responsible waste management, we took significant steps toward a plastic-free future.    

  • Our “No Bag November” campaign reaffirmed Heal the Bay’s commitment to a plastic-free Los Angeles.  Through partnerships and community activations, No Bag November urged Angelenos to say “no” to single-use plastic bags and encouraged everyone to grab their reusable bags instead.  
  • In 2023, the implementation of THREE new laws made big waves for the environment as a means to reduce plastic in our oceans.    
  • As a leader in the Reusable LA Coalition, we co-launched the “Hold the Plastic, please, campaign to educate businesses and the public about LA City and County plastic bans that Heal the Bay and partners advocated to pass. 


Environmental Health IS Public Health 

In 2023, Heal the Bay continued its relentless commitment to ocean water and freshwater quality from summit to sea.   

  • Since its launch in 2003, Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program (in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency) has educated more than 190,000 anglers about which fish are contaminated, and which are safer to eat.  
  • Our annual Beach Report Card released this year remains the gold standard, providing access to the latest water quality information based on levels of fecal-indicator bacterial pollution in the ocean at over 700 beaches. For more than 30 years, our annual report has assigned “A-to-F” letter grades and ranked the “Best and Bummer” lists across beaches from Washington State to Tijuana, Mexico.  
  • The 5th annual River Report Card was also released, ranking freshwater quality and providing grades for 35 freshwater recreation areas in Los Angeles County tested during the summer of 2022.  This summer we debuted our upgraded River Report Card with an intuitive letter grading system and celebrated the achievements of our 2023 Summer Stream Team. These two programs are at the forefront of our efforts to keep LA’s waters safe and enjoyable for all.  


Conservation and Marine Protection Are Key to Our Mission

Heal the Bay reaffirmed its commitment to biodiversity through both volunteer activations and the tireless efforts of our husbandry, operations, and education Aquarium teams. 

  • Heal the Bay Aquarium plays a pivotal role in species conservation through research, breeding programs, and public awareness campaigns. In 2023, sixteen fish, three swell sharks, and dozens of moon jellies were born at the Aquarium; and our animal care team released five species of protected and rehabilitated marine life including a keystone species, the California Sheephead fish, and a critically endangered Giant Spotted Bass into the Santa Monica Bay. By releasing these animals back into the wild, Heal the Bay continues its mission to protect and support the biodiversity of wild fish populations. 
  • As part of our collective commitment to successful conservation efforts, Heal the Bay Aquarium officially joined the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Wildlife Trafficking Alliance.  As an official member of US Fish & Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Confiscation Network pilot program, the aquarium is certified to care for the well-being of wildlife confiscated from illegal trade.   
  • Heal the Bay’s Science and Policy Team successfully advocated for state funding to research DDT in 2022-23 and is now working as part of a coalition to lead public meetings and educate Californias on the impacts of DDT on public health and biodiversity. 
  • As a watchdog for Marine Protected Areas, Heal the Bay’s MPA Team is actively contributing and analyzing critical data on California’s first decade-long review that began in 2023. One of the biggest conclusions of the review highlighted the fact that protecting these precious estuaries for the past decade has worked, allowing for flourishing biodiversity, larger populations, and bigger individual animals in these safeguarded areas. 

Environmental Justice is a pillar of environmental health.    

This year Heal the Bay stood up to big oil and continued to advocate for communities that experience the worst systemic and often immediate impacts of environmental injustice and climate change.  

  • For decades Heal the Bay has advocated alongside organizations like Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling to oppose oil drilling in Los Angeles neighborhoods, a practice long seen as an environmental injustice and a public health crisis. In October of 2023, the LA County Regional Planning Commission voted in support of phasing out oil drilling in the Inglewood Oil Field, one of the largest neighborhood oil fields in the country 
  • In 2023 Heal the Bay publicly endorsed the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy California and will work alongside public health groups, community and faith organizations, and environmental justice leaders from across California to “KEEP THE LAW” (SB 1137) on the November 2024 ballot. This law prohibits new oil wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, day care centers, parks, healthcare facilities, and businesses. 


Environmental Education, Outreach and Sharing our Passion to Protect What We Love  

Education remained a cornerstone of our mission.  In 2023, Heal the Bay expanded our outreach program, teaching schools and communities to understand the importance of environmental conservation and the role each individual can play.  

  • Through innovative approaches and interactive science-based programs, educational efforts continued to inspire and inform diverse audiences.  The Heal the Bay Aquarium field trip program sponsored 10,285 students from 22 school districts in LA County— 79% were Title 1 schools.   
  • This year, “Coastal Cleanup Education Day” at the Aquarium hosted more than 250 3rd-5th grade students from across Los Angeles County for a day of beach exploration, scientific excursions, pollution education, and hands on learning while having some fun in the sun.  


Cheers to 2023 

 As we look back on 2023, Heal the Bay celebrates a year of accomplishments, resilience, and collaboration. These achievements underscore the collective efforts of our dedicated team, volunteers, and supporters who made a positive impact on the health of our oceans and coastal ecosystems.   

Here’s to a future filled with even greater strides toward a sustainable and thriving planet!    

Looking to the Future with 2024 in our sights 

In 2024, Heal the Bay will enter a bold five-year strategic plan with a focus on protecting and restoring the Los Angeles environment and water. The plan aims to improve water quality, increase access to clean water, and advocate for policies that benefit the environment. We have outlined specific goals and initiatives, such as reducing plastic pollution, restoring wetlands, and engaging communities in environmental education and action.   

Thank you for all our supporters both past and present.


Want to support our work for years to come? There is still time to make your big impact for Heal the Bay with Year End Giving. Give a gift for good to protect our precious watershed and help keep our coastal waters safe and clean all year round. Whether it be Corporate and Foundation GivingPartnershipsStock DonationsDonor Advised FundsEstate PlansDonations and Sponsorship Opportunities, you can make a lasting impact with your year-end contribution today. Contact Us.

Heal the Bay closely monitors the progress of bills that impact California’s ecosystems and communities each legislative calendar year, and this season has been a rollercoaster ride ranging from game-changing victories in water conservation to ongoing waste and toxin battles. Let’s take a deep dive into the outcomes of key legislation and what it means for healthy, safe, clean water.

 Major Wins led by Heal the Bay for Water & Biodiversity

When Heal the Bay sponsors a bill, we take on the responsibility of introducing, advocating for, and shepherding a proposed new law through the legislative process. This year, Heal the Bay co-sponsored two bills that were signed into law.

  • Assembly Bill 1572 (Friedman): Irrigation of Non-functional Turf, co-sponsored by Heal the Bay, NRDC, and Metropolitan Water District

a.k.a the “lawn-be-gone” solution for a more water equitable and climate resilient California.

Heal the Bay sponsored AB 1572 which is all about using water more efficiently. The bill bans the use of drinking water to irrigate “non-functional turf” on government and commercial properties. See a patch of grass and wondering if it’s non-functional turf?  If the only time a person walks on the grass is to mow it, it’s probably non-functional turf. This bill doesn’t impact landscapes around people’s homes, but it does mean no more watering fancy lawns with precious drinking water at public agencies, restaurants, and corporate campuses. When it goes into effect, AB 1572 is expected to save the same amount of water 780,000 households use in a year! Even major water suppliers supported it. This bill is a huge win toward a more sustainable and water-efficient California.  While the bill excludes single-family residential lawns, everyone is encouraged to do their part.  To learn about how you can transform your landscape, check out LA Department of Water and Power and Metropolitan Water District’s turf replacement programs.

  • Assembly Bill 1611 (Lowenthal): Fishing Violations, co-sponsored by Heal the Bay and Resources Legacy Fund

a.k.a the “win-win” for fish and anglers.

AB 1611 simplifies and clarifies fishing regulations in California by allowing Fish and Game wardens to cite certain administrative commercial fishing violations as either a misdemeanor or an infraction. This change ensures that wild fishery enforcement is more equitable.

This smart approach ensures that the punishment fits the crime by striking a balance between fairness and strong governance. This bill had strong backing from fishery regulatory agencies and its passing means California is taking essential steps to safeguard its fisheries and continue its tradition of leading in environmental protection. It’s a win-win for both nature and the community.

Want to help Heal the Bay monitor our precious Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)? Become an MPA Watch Volunteer and learn how to identify and report violations – the first step to becoming an MPA Watch volunteer is to attend our next Volunteer Orientation on January 11, 2024, at 6 PM (Heal the Bay Aquarium).

Want to learn more about the bills Heal the Bay helped sponsor? 🔴 WATCH our 2023 Legislative Wins Break-Down on Instagram. 

Other Exciting Legislative Wins

  • Senate Bill 244 (Eggman): Right to Repair

a.k.a “Don’t waste it, fix it”.

Dubbed the “Right to Repair Act”, the passage of SB 244 will have a powerful impact on reducing electronic waste by giving consumers more accessibility to the parts and pieces needed to fix electronics and appliances. Beginning July 1, 2024, manufacturers will have to provide you, their customer, with documentation, parts, and tools for repairs, even if the warranty has expired. This law is all about making repairs more accessible, reducing waste, and promoting a fair marketplace for fixes.  Heal the Bay supported this bill through our Clean Seas Lobbying Coalition.

Tough Losses: Vetoed Bills

Not every bill makes it through the process, Governor Newsom vetoed several bills that Heal the Bay would have preferred to see signed into law:

  • Assembly Bill 1628 (McKinnor): Microfiber Filtration

a.k.a “Microfiber filters could make massive impacts on the environment”.

AB 1628 was focused on microfiber pollution, a major contributor to microplastic pollution around the globe. It would have required every new washing machine sold in the State, whether for homes or industrial use, to come with a special microfiber filter. This filter is like a lint trap that catches tiny microfibers as small as 100 micrometers, preventing them from getting into our environment. The bill was vetoed by Governor Newsom who expressed concerns about increased costs to consumers and instead suggested the exploration of alternative, incentive-based approaches. Heal the Bay does not agree with his false narrative, and, in fact, bill analysis still favors a legislative approach showing that increased costs would have actually been minimal for both consumers and manufacturers.

  • Assembly Bill 1423 (Schiavo): PFAS in Artificial Turf

a.k.a A “turf” loss for the environment.

AB 1423 would have prevented California public entities, schools, and certain colleges from buying or installing artificial turf or synthetic surfaces containing harmful PFAS chemicals (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances), commonly called “forever chemicals,” which are highly toxic compounds persistent in the environment and linked to a myriad of public health concerns. The bill would have also encouraged manufacturers to choose safer alternatives when replacing PFAS in these surfaces.  Unfortunately, Governor Newsom vetoed this bill citing a lack of regulatory oversight to enforce the ban.  Heal the Bay continues to seek opportunities to educate the public about the dangers of PFAS and encourage alternatives wherever possible.

It’s Not Over Yet: Bills to Revisit

While some bills came out on top and others met their downfall this year, a few were set on a two-year track that may potentially be reintroduced in 2024 (also known as part two of the two-year legislative session). Below are some standout bills that Heal the Bay is excited to work on when they arise again:

  • Assembly Bill 1290 (Rivas): Plastic Additives

AB 1290 sought to adopt new plastic regulations by putting restrictions on certain plastic products and additives. The bill aimed to ban making, selling, offering for sale, or distributing especially toxic items like colored plastic bottles and plastic packaging with toxic substances in California. These restricted substances include colorants that make plastic hard to recycle, additives that make plastic break down into tiny pieces, and harmful PFAS chemicals. This bill was extended to a 2-year bill and Heal the Bay continues to support its passage.

  • Senate Bill 552 (Newman): Reuse for Dine-In 

SB 552 was a tough loss for Heal the Bay and our partners along with bill sponsors at the Clean Seas Coalition. This bill would have prohibited food facilities from providing a dine-in customer with any single-use foodware accessory or single-use food packaging. LA County recently passed a similar law thanks to Heal the Bay and Reusable LA, and we know just how effective this law would be at reducing harmful single-use plastic waste from the source. Unfortunately, thanks to logistical challenges, this bill never really took off this year, but Heal the Bay is really excited to push even harder for this legislation next year.

For a great summary of outcomes on climate and other environmental bills, check out the recap from LA Times reporter, Sammy Roth.

While this year was peppered with heartbreaks and an unusually high number of bill vetoes, Heal the Bay is still celebrating our wins and looking forward to next year.  From equitable fishing regulation to water conservation and waste reduction, our state is at the forefront of safeguarding our precious ecosystems. As we move forward, Heal the Bay will continue to fight for healthy, safe, clean water for all. Keep following along to stay in the know and learn how you can help us support the next round of California environmental bills!




















 From the Desk of Meredith McCarthy, Director of Campaigns & Outreach, Heal the Bay leader for over 20 years, and professional mom working hard to thrive during this busy holiday season.

From our beach cleanups to our policy work on single-use plastics, Heal the Bay is tackling the waste crisis. With the holiday season upon us, there are numerous opportunities to help protect our local waters and watersheds by going green. 

Read Part ONE of our Green Holiday Tips Guide: Sustainable Shipping Holiday Myths

Read Part TWO of our Green Holiday Tips Guide: Wrapping Paper vs. Recycling

PART THREE:  Decorating for Your Holiday Party

As you plan your open house party menu, in a perfect world, you run into the store and do the right thing by purchasing compostable disposable party supplies, such as plastic plates, cups, and utensils. Because no good deed goes unpunished, your irritating neighbor says, “Oh honey why did you pay more for those? We don’t have industrial composting in LA.” 

Wait, what? 

They are right. We don’t have industrial composting in the greater Los Angeles region.  We have organics recycling. But what about those green compost bins you see all over Santa Monica? The big push for your food waste to go into the green bin is to reduce the methane in our landfills. Industrial composting and organics recycling are both waste management practices that aim to divert organic waste from landfills. Getting (once) living materials out of landfill is a critical greenhouse gas reduction strategy. While they share the goal of managing organic waste, there are differences between the two processes. 

While both systems readily take all food and yard waste, organics recycling can only process 100% fiber based single use materials. No coatings or adhesives. If your holiday plates have a big colorful snow scene on them, they have a coating and they should go in the trash.  

While it’s true that many disposable party supplies are not easily recyclable, there are efforts to develop more environmentally friendly options and improve recycling systems. As a consumer, you can consider using alternatives such as reusable party supplies, or you can be mindful of choosing disposable items made from materials that are 100% fiber based.  Another zerowaste strategy is to ask your friends to bring their own mug or flatware instead of a hostess gift. Consider it a gift to the environment! 

Need a Last-Minute Gift for your Party Host? Give the Gift of Experience

If you are headed to a holiday party thank your host with a great gift for good. Heal the Bay has no-wrapping-required gift options for you!

For the future marine scientist in your life: Gift Heal the Bay Aquarium Winter Science Camp, perfect for kids from kindergarten to 5th grade, our Winter Sessions are open from January 2 to January 5, 2024.

For the impossible-to-shop-for Secret Santa Recipient: Give a Heal the Bay Gift card, good to use on all items in the shop, at Heal the Bay ticket events, and visits to the Heal the Bay Aquarium.

For the Animal Activist on your Gift List: Gift a Heal the Bay Aquarium Membership which includes unlimited free visits, exclusive member benefits, and valuable discounts.


 From the Desk of Meredith McCarthy, Director of Campaigns & Outreach, Heal the Bay leader for over 20 years, and professional mom working hard to thrive during this busy holiday season.

From our beach cleanups to our policy work on single-use plastics, Heal the Bay is tackling the waste crisis. With the holiday season upon us, there are numerous opportunities to help protect our local waters and watersheds by going green. 

Read Part ONE of our Green Holiday Tips Guide: Sustainable Shipping Holiday Myths

Read Part THREE of our Green Holiday Tips Guide: Decorating for Your Holiday Party

PART TWO:  Wrapping Paper vs. Recycling

I have memories as a child writhing in pain on Christmas morning as my mother helicoptered around us demanding we take the utmost care when opening presents. Wrapping paper in my family fell into the legacy category. Every bow was carefully peeled off and the tape slit so the paper could be reused again and again. We longed to rip open packages with reckless abandon like Ralphie in A Christmas Story. This was not a planet-saving strategy, but rather an exercise in extreme frugality (my parents having grown up in the great depression). The mantra was “waste nothing”. Back then wrapping paper was actually paper as opposed to the metallic, plastic hybrid we see in the stores today.  This new elaborate wrapping poses a challenge for an already complicated recycling process. 

Your wrapping paper is most likely not recyclable

Traditional wrapping paper often contains a mix of materials, including metallic or plastic coatings, glitter, and other embellishments. The same elements that make the paper shiny also render it difficult to recycle. That’s because shiny wrapping paper is often made with Mylar, a plastic film coated with aluminum. Don’t wishcycle. It’s going to the landfill. 

The thin and delicate nature of wrapping paper adds to its recyclability challenges. The fibers used in many wrapping papers are often shorter and of lower quality compared to those found in standard recyclable paper products. As a result, the recycling process becomes less effective, leading to lower-quality recycled material or the rejection of the paper altogether. 

If the paper weren’t challenging enough, the tape, bows, and adhesive labels contaminate recycling streams, making it harder to separate and process the materials efficiently. Those shiny stick-on bows and sparkly nylon ribbons? Unrecyclable. 

“Wrapping up” Your Green Holidays Sustainably

This year try a more sustainable approach to gift wrapping. Explore alternatives such as reusable fabric, interesting apparel like scarves from Goodwill or even creative DIY solutions like:

  • Maps 
  • Newspaper
  • Bees Wrap
  • Naturally Dyed Paper
  • Toilet Paper wrap

One of our Heal the Bay team members got creative by wrapping her gift in a Heal the Bay t-shirt!

Opting for minimalistic wrapping styles without excessive embellishments can also contribute to making gift wrapping more environmentally friendly. Try a rosemary sprig from the bush outside and a hemp or jute ribbon. The string and rosemary can go in the in the organics bin. If you can’t imagine a holiday without unwrapping gifts, try 100% recycled kraft paper. Ultimately, all the parts of your gift should tell the recipient that you care about them and their future. 

Give the Gift of Experience

Not every great gift needs a bow. Heal the Bay has no-wrapping-required gift options for you!

For the future marine scientist in your life: Gift Heal the Bay Aquarium Winter Science Camp, perfect for kids from kindergarten to 5th grade, our Winter Sessions are open from January 2 to January 5, 2024.

For the impossible-to-shop-for Secret Santa Recipient: Give a Heal the Bay Gift card, good to use on all items in the shop, at Heal the Bay ticket events, and visits to the Heal the Bay Aquarium.

For the Animal Activist on your Gift List: Gift a Heal the Bay Aquarium Membership which includes unlimited free visits, exclusive member benefits, and valuable discounts.


As we head into a new year, we’re reflecting on the debut of our upgraded River Report Card (RRC) with an intuitive letter grading system, and celebrating the achievements of our 2023 Summer Stream Team. These two programs are at the forefront of our efforts to keep LA’s waters safe and enjoyable for all.

A Fresh Look for RRC

Gone are the days of the color-coded rating system; welcome to the era of letter grades (A, B, C, D, and F) in the River Report Card! This change mirrors our successful Beach Report Card (BRC) format, offering a clear and consistent way to understand water quality risks based on the latest science and water quality regulations. It’s more than just a visual upgrade­­–– it’s about making health risks in our rivers and streams more accessible and understandable to the public.

The Summer Stream Team: Our Water Quality Champions

Every summer, we hire a group of passionate students to monitor, analyze, and report on the water quality of our local rivers from Malibu Creek State Park to the Upper and Lower Los Angeles River. This year, our team of 12 college students from Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC), California State University Long Beach (CSULB) and LA (CSULA), and Long Beach City College (LBCC) embarked on a 15-week mission, bringing new insights and enthusiasm to the task.

Voices from the Field

Our Stream Team members share their experiences, offering a glimpse into the world of environmental stewardship.

Leslie Ma, CSULB: “Some things I learned from the sampling season included field experience, water quality analysis, and data management. The most interesting finding was how vital the LA River is to the neighboring communities and the many animals that depend on the water.”

Ellie Garcia, LATTC: “The most interesting finding during the season was learning about the variation in bacteria depending on the site and location and how the results from our sampling season could make such an impactful discovery.”

David Martinez, LATTC: “The most interesting finding is that even though a site might look clean that might not be the case, so it is important to check the RRC before visiting a freshwater recreational site.”

Alejandra Miranda and Amy Flores from CSULA test water at the Heal the Bay lab (left), Thais Arata from CSULA collects a water sample from Las Virgenes Creek in Malibu Creek State Park (right)

Stream Team Favorites

Our Summer Stream Team members share their favorite aspects and locations along the LA River. Their responses highlight the diversity and beauty of the river’s ecosystems:

Ellie Garcia, LATTC: “My favorite part of the LA River was the Upper Elysian Valley Recreation Zone site because of the animals it attracts, especially the birds, which we can document as part of our field data information.”

David Martinez, LATTC: “The LA River at Benedict St. in Frogtown was my favorite as it has a beautiful insight and was the cleanest.”

Blaire Edwards, LATTC: “My favorite thing about the LA River is that it is so long and flows south and east through various cities in LA County, bringing so many people and animal life together.”

Vina Matias, John Hauser and Gisselle Ponce from LBCC sample water at Riverfront Park in Maywood, CA

Envisioning the Future of the LA River

When asked about their ideal vision for the LA River, our team’s responses painted pictures of hope and rejuvenation:

Leslie Ma, CSULB: “The ideal conditions for the LA River would be a steady flow within the water confluence. Birds should fly around to feed, and I would expect the water to be transparent and clean since it flows directly to our oceans.”

Blaire Edwards, LATTC: “The ideal conditions will be that the LA River undergoes a giant project to clean up the trash that has become stuck in the islands in the river and permanently close all storm drains that dump into the river and just let the river grow naturally. Hopefully, more wildlife can thrive like the native fish species like trout and turtles.”

Examples of poor water conditions (left and right), vegetation and concrete of the LA River (center)

Another Successful Stream Team Season

The upgraded RRC and our Summer Stream Team’s dedicated efforts represent Heal the Bay’s ongoing commitment to community health and environmental stewardship. These efforts not only make our water quality data more accessible but also empower the next generation of environmental advocates and leaders. Thank you again to our brilliant student team: Zaria Alam, Leslie Ma, Gisselle Ponce, John Rae Hauser, Vina Rose Matias, Alejandra Miranda, Thais Arata, Amy Flores, Sun Chowdhury, Eliana Garcia, David Martinez Ramirez, Lyanne Fernandez, and Blaire Edwards.

We invite you to check out the new River Report Card at and join us in celebrating the incredible work of our Summer Stream Team. Although the River Report Card is only updated during the summer, checking it now provides information on previous water quality grades and why it is essential to understand the health of our freshwater ecosystems. New information will become available in June 2024, so stay tuned!

Together, let’s continue to make informed decisions for safe water recreation and protect the health of our beloved waterways.

Members of the Stream Team at Malibu Creek: Alejandra Miranda, Thais Arata, Amy Flores from CSULA, and Blaire Edwards from LATTC.

Between all the shopping, shipping, baking, and making this Winter how can anyone keep their holidays green? Check out our THREE-PART Sustainable Holiday Tips just in time to keep you on the “NICE” list this December! 

From the Desk of Meredith McCarthy, Director of Campaigns & Outreach, Heal the Bay leader for over 20 years, and professional mom working hard to thrive during this busy holiday season.

From our beach cleanups to our policy work on single-use plastics, Heal the Bay is tackling the waste crisis. We are working to end the production and use of single-use plastics to reduce harmful impacts on people, wildlife, and ecosystems. We cannot recycle our way out of this problem – we must switch to reusable alternatives or those that are truly recyclable or compostable. With the holiday season upon us, there are numerous opportunities to help protect our local waters and watersheds by going green. 

PART ONE:  Is Sustainable Shipping a Holiday Myth?

If your gift-giving season is marked by a beaten path of Amazon deliveries to your front door, here are some things to keep in mind as you sneak down the alley to your neighbor
s recycle bin because yours is full: Recyclability of shipping materials depends on the specific materials used.  

What gets recycled?

Cardboard boxes & paper packages: Cardboard boxes are widely recyclable. Most recycling programs accept cardboard. Break them down before you put them in the recycle bin.  

Plastic:  Some types of plastic, such as PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and HDPE (high-density polyethylene), are commonly recyclable. Look for recycling symbols on plastic items. The number inside the chasing arrows needs to be a #1, 2, or 5 to be accepted by most municipal recycling programs. Plastic envelopes and bubble wrap made from LDPE (low-density polyethylene) may be technically recyclable, but most curbside pickups do not accept this type of plastic film. The economics of recycling are influenced by market demand for recycled materials. If there is limited demand for recycled LDPE, recycling facilities are less motivated to invest in the necessary infrastructure and technologies to process and recycle this type of plastic. The good news is that Heal the Bay Aquarium, through our partnership with Ridwell, will take plastic film, Amazon envelopes, and bubble wrap through January.   

Styrofoam (Polystyrene): Styrofoam is rarely accepted in standard curbside recycling programs.  

Mixed: If your paper package is lined with bubble wrap it won’t recycle. The municipal system is not designed to separate the plastic from the paper. 

Foam Packing Peanuts: Not recyclable – headed to the landfill. 

Biodegradable packing peanuts: Dissolvable in water.  

One Solution, Shop local!

We know you know that by shopping locally you can avoid all of this. Set a goal and try to purchase at least half of your shopping list from local vendors.  

If you are in LA, check out our Shop Local Holiday Gift Guide for ideas from the Heal the Bay Staff.


Or give gifts that help protect what you love (our coastal waters and watershed) when you shop at our Heal the Bay Online Store

No time to ship? You have the option to PICK UP YOUR ORDER AT OUR OFFICE IN SANTA MONICA or you can shop all your favorite Heal the Bay Gear at the Heal the Bay Aquarium Gift Shop and Heal the Bay Welcome Center on top of the Santa Monica Pier. 

Give the Gift of Experience

Heal the Bay has no-shipping-required options too!

For the future marine scientist in your life: Gift Heal the Bay Aquarium Winter Science Camp, perfect for kids from kindergarten to 5th grade, our Winter Sessions are open from January 2 to January 5, 2024.

For the impossible-to-shop-for Secret Santa Recipient: Give a Heal the Bay Gift card, good to use on all items in the shop, at Heal the Bay ticket events, and visits to the Heal the Bay Aquarium.

For the Animal Activist on your Gift List: Gift a Heal the Bay Aquarium Membership which includes unlimited free visits, exclusive member benefits, and valuable discounts.


Did you enjoy Part One of our series? Check out Part TWO on Gift Wrapping vs Recycling and Part THREE on Throwing a Party Sustainably

When marine animals are seized in illegal animal trafficking cases, those animals must be cared for by certified Aquariums and Zoos until a verdict can be rendered. That’s where Heal the Bay steps in.

From the desk of Laura Rink, Associate Aquarium Director of Operations, Heal the Bay Aquarium.

Heal the Bay Aquarium is officially a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, a network pilot program that provides a coordinated response for the care and well-being of wildlife confiscated from illegal trade.   

In late October 2023, Heal the Bay joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for a press conference at the Los Angeles Zoo to announce the launch of the Wildlife Confiscations Network in Southern California (see image above).  

“In September 2023 Wildlife traffickers pleaded guilty in federal court in California to illegally importing endangered sea cucumbers – which are prized in China for food and medicine and as a reputed aphrodisiac – from Mexico.” – (Sean Hiller/AP) The Guardian

Online marketplaces and social media have made it significantly easier for consumers to illegally acquire wild animals. Every year, millions of trafficked animals fuel this global demand. Wildlife trafficking decimates species in the wild, fuels criminal networks, destabilizes governments, encourages corruption, and threatens human and animal health through the transmission of diseases. 

Joining this network is an amazing opportunity for Heal the Bay Aquarium to continue its work with partner aquariums and environmental organizations to conserve, protect, and care for the local habitats and species specific to the Santa Monica Bay.  This new Wildlife Conservation Network Certification identifies Heal the Bay Aquarium as a facility qualified to provide the housing and welfare for marine species that are confiscated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service from illegal wildlife trade.  

We hope that through our collaborative efforts, we will not only be able to save the lives of many species but also contribute to effectively combating illegal wildlife trafficking. 

Please note:  The Aquarium does not accept public animal drop-offs.  If you encounter a potential wildlife crime, please report it to the Service’s wildlife trafficking tips line at 1-844-FWS-TIPS (397-8477) or online at: If your tip leads to an arrest, or other substantial action, you may be eligible to receive a financial reward. 


From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service NEWS DESK



 New Network Gives Hope to Animals Trafficked Through Illegal Wildlife Trade 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums announce a pilot network in southern California to provide care and welfare for animals confiscated from illegal trade. 

 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums today announced the launch of the Wildlife Confiscations Network in southern California. The network is a pilot program of AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance that provides a coordinated response for the care and well-being of wildlife confiscated from illegal trade.  

Online marketplaces and social media have made it significantly easier for consumers to illegally acquire wild animals. Every year, millions of trafficked animals fuel this global demand. Wildlife trafficking decimates species in the wild, fuels criminal networks, destabilizes governments, encourages corruption, and threatens human and animal health through the transmission of diseases. 

“Wildlife trafficking is a serious crime that impacts imperiled species throughout the world,” said Martha Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director. “When live wild animals and plants are seized at U.S. ports of entry, it is critical to provide the highest standard of care as quickly as possible. It is also essential to grant safe and appropriate housing for species that cannot be returned to their country of origin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proud to work with a broad spectrum of law enforcement and conservation partners to ensure the health, wellbeing and proper care of all seized wildlife and plants in our custody. This newly established pilot program network will help conserve animals and plants for future generations.” 

Successful wildlife law enforcement often involves the seizure, confiscation, and holding of a diverse array of wild animals, notably at U.S. ports of entry or exit. In 2022, Service special agents and the Service’s law enforcement partners investigated over 10,000 wildlife trafficking cases and collected over $11,000,000 in criminal penalties. That same year, wildlife inspectors across the country worked alongside other federal agencies to process over 160,000 legal and declared shipments of wildlife products – and seize illegal shipments at U.S. ports of entry.  

Through a cooperative agreement between the Service and AZA, the network will be a point of contact for wildlife law enforcement officers in southern California to lessen the logistical burden of searching for appropriate placement of trafficked animals. With a dedicated wildlife confiscations coordinator, wildlife law enforcement can now make a single phone call to relay the specific housing needs of the species involved. The coordinator will then refer to a list of fully vetted and permitted professional animal care facilities in the region to determine which can meet the case needs. Currently a pilot program, the network plans to replicate the framework developed in southern California throughout the U.S. 

“Many AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums already work closely with law enforcement agencies to provide critical support for the victims of the illegal wildlife trade,” said Dan Ashe, AZA president and chief executive officer. “We are pleased to formalize this work by establishing the Southern California Wildlife Confiscations Network pilot program to ensure the ongoing conservation of threatened species and the wellbeing of individual animals. We will take what we learn in this process and begin to build out the network nationwide.” 

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proud of the work AZA has done to establish the Wildlife Confiscations Network,” said Ed Grace, assistant director of the Service’s Office of Law Enforcement. “Using the network to coordinate placement and care of seized live animals will enhance wildlife law enforcement’s ability to effectively combat illegal wildlife trafficking. This program exemplifies how working together can help serve the American public.”  

If you encounter a potential wildlife crime, please report it to the Service’s wildlife trafficking tips line at 1-844-FWS-TIPS (397-8477) or online at: If your tip leads to an arrest, or other substantial action, you may be eligible to receive a financial reward. 


About the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:  

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit, or connect with us through any of these social media channels: Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, YouTube and Flickr 


About AZA: 

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and 12 other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit   

About AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (WTA): 

The Wildlife Trafficking Alliance is a coalition of over 90 nonprofit organizations, companies, and AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, working together to combat illegal wildlife trade around the world. To learn more, visit 






Holiday shopping doesn’t need to be stressful (or unsustainable!). The staff at Heal the Bay are here to help you find unique, sustainable, & local gift ideas for everyone on your list. Check out the guide below, curated by members of the Heal the Bay team!

For the plastic-free lifestyle. This gift is perfect for those looking to ditch plastic, prevent food waste, and save money. It has been a game changer in my kitchen and is great for anyone who cooks for one (or two) at home. - Nancy, Senior Watershed Specialist Food Huggers $16.99, available at The IceFlow Flip Straw Tumbler, Stanley $35, available at A sturdy, reusable bottle is a must-have for your eco-conscious loved ones. Stanley is an iconic brand that offers a huge variety of sizes, styles, and colors that are sure to please anyone on your list. - Sheila, Associate Director of Development

Food Huggers

The Iceflow Flip Straw Tumbler, Stanley

For the upcycled interior decorator. For the upcycled interior decorator hand-made drink accessories available at Got a whiskey or wine lover on your gift list? Check out the hand-crafted bottle openers, coasters, wine glass caddies, and other unique gifts upcycled from authentic whiskey and wine barrels, made by the SoCal-based Stave and Vine. - Stephanie, Beach Programs Manager hand-turned wood bowls available at These expertly hand-turned wood bowls are made out of repurposed and reclaimed wood and are a beautiful accent or centerpiece. - Stephanie, Beach Programs Manager

Upcycled Drink Accessories, Stave and Vine

Hand-Turned Wooden Bowls, King Wood Designs

For the small-batch candle lover. For the small-batch candle lover Prepare to be transported to far-off magical lands with Mythologie Candles' unique selection of fantasy-inspired scents! Their eco-friendly candles are perfect for anyone in your life who loves a bit of whimsy or is simply addicted to scented candles like I am. Plus, your purchase supports a woman-owned small business. - Ava, Watershed Program Coordinator Mythologie Candles starting at $25, available at Flor de Nopal Candle $32, available at Located in East Los Angeles, Earthy Corazon is a Latina-owned business offering products ranging from candles to body care (I love their body butters!) that are made with locally sourced ingredients and inspired by nature. Their Flor de Nopal scent is fresh and grounding and is inspired by cactus flowers. - Kayleigh, Senior Manager of Outreach

Flor de Nopal Candle, Earthy Corazon

Mythologie Candles

For the sustainable early bird Unitea Teapot, Kinto $30, available at re_grocery re_grocery is a package-free grocery store with three locations in LA. Pair this sleek, simple teapot with one of their many loose-leaf teas, all the makings of a zero-waste gift set for the tea lover in your life. - Annelisa, Associate Director of Science and Policy seasonal baked goods available at Proof Bakery Co-Op Proof Bakery in Atwater Village bakes some of the most delicious pastries in all of Los Angeles. Proof is an equitable, worker-owned cooperative. Stop in and grab some of their seasonal treats for your loved ones this holiday season! - Cameron, Senior Communications Coordinator

Unitea Teapot Kinto, re_grocery

Seasonal Baked Goods, Proof Bakery

For the eco-friendly kid (or kid at heart), Umvvelt is a SoCal designer who makes great ocean-inspired apparel and pins. I love these pieces because I wear them weekly as I share ocean inspiration with aquarium visitors! - Cat, Public Programs Coordinator Umvvelt Dumbo Octopus Bucket Hat $35, available at Meemzy Magic sensory kits provide children the opportunity to actively use their senses during play. The kits are made with bamboo, wood, and all-natural materials. - Stephanie, Beach Programs Manager Meemzy Magic eco-friendly sensory kits $49, available at

Eco-Friendly Sensory Kits, Meemzy Magic

Dumbo Octopus Bucket Hat, Umvvelt

For the conscious trendsetter. Tower 28 Beauty starting at $24, available at Named for LA Lifeguard Tower 28, this skin care and makeup brand goes beyond sustainability. Environmental impact is at the core of every decision and product. SOS Rescue Spray is a must gift and self purchase! - John, VP Development Grey Fossilized Coral Ring $160, available at KARLITA DESIGNS is a Latina-owned small business based in Los Angeles. This stunning, hypo-allergenic ring features Grey Fossilized Coral. - Alison, Director of Communications

Grey Fossilized Coral Ring, KARLITA DESIGNS

SOS Skincare, Tower 28 Beauty

For the urban enthusiast. A Book About LA available in-store or online at “Skylight Books is an independent bookstore that offers a massive range of both popular and rare titles, including a large selection of books about LA! I recommend The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory by Norman Klein.” - Cameron W., Senior Communications Coordinator Ridwell Membership starting at $14, available at “Ridwell offers a subscription-based service for hard-to-recycle items. You bag them; they pick them up. Makes for a a great eco-conscious family or corporate gift.” - John S., VP Development

The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory by Norman Klein, Skylight Books

Ridwell Membership


*The items and brands on this list are not endorsed by Heal the Bay.


Not every great gift needs a bow. Heal the Bay has no-wrapping-required gift options for you!

For the future marine scientist in your life: Gift Heal the Bay Aquarium Winter Science Camp, perfect for kids from kindergarten to 5th grade, our Winter Sessions are open from January 2 to January 5, 2024.

For the impossible-to-shop-for Secret Santa Recipient: Give a Heal the Bay Gift card, good to use on all items in the shop, at Heal the Bay ticket events, and visits to the Heal the Bay Aquarium.

For the Animal Activist on your Gift List: Gift a Heal the Bay Aquarium Membership which includes unlimited free visits, exclusive member benefits, and valuable discounts.

Heal the Bay, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Los Angeles Waterkeeper have worked together to develop a “Vision 2045” report with bolder goals and recommendations for the County’s Safe, Clean Water Program.


Ladera Park is one of many successful greening projects funded by the Safe, Clean Water Program, but Los Angeles needs more stormwater projects to prepare our region for its future water needs. (Photo by Heal the Bay) 

In 2018, Los Angeles County residents passed a landmark funding measure (Measure W), which imposed a parcel tax on impervious surfaces to fund stormwater projects to increase local water supply, improve water quality, and provide community benefits through the Safe, Clean Water Program (SCWP). With an annual budget of approximately $280 million, the SCWP has the potential to transform how Los Angeles County manages stormwater, prioritizing climate resilience and community health and well-being.

The SCWP is currently undergoing its first official assessment through the County’s Biennial Review process, offering an opportunity to assess progress, reflect on the achievement of goals, set targets, and make recommendations.   Numerous water quality deadlines have passed in an environment that is becoming hotter and less hospitable and frontline communities are bearing the brunt of those impacts. Therefore, despite numerous successes in its first four years, it has become evident that to meet future ambitions, a clear and realistic roadmap is required.   It is now clear that the SCWP must be even bolder in its goals, targets, and timelines to accelerate the equitable transformation of LA County to greener, more local water self-sufficient and climate-prepared communities. 

That is why Heal the Bay, along with our partners at Natural Resources Defense Council and LA Waterkeeper, representing three of the LA region’s leading water advocacy organizations, shared a new report with LA County decision-makers tasked with overseeing the ambitious SCWP.

Vision 2045: Thriving in a Hotter and Drier LA County through Local Stormwater Capture and Pollutant Reduction includes bolder goals, targets, and recommendations for the SCWP on water supply, water quality, equity, science, finance, and policy.  The report is intended to catalyze County efforts to ensure the Safe, Clean Water Program reaches its goals more quickly and definitively. The timing of the release of this document corresponds with the December 7th meeting of the Regional Oversight Committee on the Biennial Review as well as this week’s LA County Board of Supervisors approval of the LA County Water Plan that builds on their goal of 80% local water supplies by 2045.

Make The Most of Every Drop of Rain 

With climate change accelerating, one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure Angelenos will continue to have the water they need to thrive in the decades to come is to make the most of every drop of rain that falls. The groups that drafted this vision document note there is a real urgency to ensure the Safe, Clean Water Program is implemented in a way that is both effective and equitable. Among other goals, it calls for a target of an additional 300,000 acre-feet of stormwater to be captured and put to use every year by 2045. The document also calls on the county to aggressively reduce water pollution by complying with state deadlines, and ensure that at least 10% of projects in disadvantaged communities that are funded through the program are led by community-based organizations, to ensure robust community involvement.

Nature-Based Solutions 

The vision document also proposes a target of replacing 12,000 acres of impermeable surfaces with new green space by 2045: a nature-based solution that provides recreation, open space, public health benefits, and more. It calls for all schools located within the boundaries of state-defined disadvantaged communities to become green schools by 2030, with all LA County schools meeting that target no later than 2045. Vision 2045 also sets a target of developing an outreach plan to actively engage local tribes in program implementation by the end of next year.

Yes, 2045 is more than twenty years in the future and unforeseeable changes are ahead economically, environmentally, and politically (for better or worse).  Most policymakers and groups working on the program will have moved on and so the way to stay on target is to set realistic (but bold) milestones goals, targets, and timelines to stay on track and achieve safe, clean, water for all.

See our top-level goals, and additional recommendations in the full report.

Read the full Vision 2045 Report






In the not-so-distant past, disposable plastic bags were a ubiquitous sight, fluttering in the wind and littering our streets, waterways, and beaches. But Los Angeles took a pioneering step in 2014 and implemented a city-wide bag ban in grocery stores. The state of California soon followed, after dozens of districts across the state banned single-use plastic bags, and since then, light weight single-use plastic grocery bags have been officially outlawed. And yet, single-use bags have slowly crept back into our lives.

This month, Heal the Bay launched the “No Bag November” campaign, urging everyone to embrace and recommit themselves to declining single-use plastic bags, and digging up their reusable bags from the depths of their pantries to reaffirm our commitment to a plastic-free Los Angeles. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history of the plastic bag, the nuances of the bag ban, and what we can do to create lasting change.

The Story of the Plastic Bag: A Brief History and the Bag Ban

Behold the infamous “Plastic Bag Monster” at the height of the single-use-plastic bag epidemic before the passage of SB270.

The Rise of the Plastic Bag: Disposable plastic bags became an environmental scourge as their production skyrocketed in the late 20th century. Their lightweight nature meant that, after being used for mere minutes typically, they could easily escape from trash cans and pollute our oceans and landscapes. These bags, while only a fraction of all single-use plastics, are particularly problematic due to the challenge of recycling the thin film which often clogs recycling machinery.

The “Plastic Bag Monster” awaits their fate as the plastic bag ban becomes law, first in Los Angeles, then across California in 2016.

The Bag Ban: California’s bag ban, Senate Bill 270, was implemented in 2016 after a multi-year fight and statewide public vote (Prop 67), and was a significant step towards reducing plastic pollution. This law banned single-use plastic carry-out bags from groceries, pharmacies, convenience stores, and more and required a $0.10 charge on any other carry-out bags provided to customers. Championed by environmental groups across the State, including Heal the Bay, it was a momentous move that set a trend for the rest of the nation. However, the battle was far from over.

The Nuances of the Bag Ban: Despite its initial success, shown by a significant reduction in plastic bags removed from shorelines and beaches during Coastal Cleanup Day events following its passage, the bag ban has faced challenges, including the loophole that allows thicker “reusable” high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic bags to be sold to customers for the $0.10 fee. These bags present the same waste disposal challenges as their thinner counterparts and are still prolific.

The COVID-19 Bag Resurgence: The bag ban’s so-called “failure” during the COVID-19 pandemic was due to a massive surge in disposable plastics from takeout and grocery delivery, coupled with precautious emergency waivers from state officials that lifted the state’s bag ban. The reality is that, while at first there were many unknowns around COVID-19 transfer and our state leaders took all necessary steps to keep frontline workers safe, it was later proven that reusable bags never posed a risk. But big plastic lobbyists continued to push the flawed narrative of “unsafe” reusable bags and the damage was done; reusable bags disappeared from shopper carts, almost overnight, and the culture shifted backwards. Now, as the LA Times reported this past summer, reusable bags are no longer a priority for grocery stores or for customers. But here’s the silver lining: The City of Los Angeles recently expanded its bag ban beyond grocery stores to all retail facilities, marking a step in the right direction.

Plastic Bag Monsters have made a resurgence since 2020. How can we ensure this invasive species goes extinct?

Recommendations for Policy Updates: To truly make an impact in the new paradigm, we need to amend the bag ban. We must close loopholes, enforce the regulations, enhance consumer awareness, and increase monitoring efforts. Heal the Bay’s “No Bag November” campaign is the perfect opportunity to recommit to our waste reduction and renew the age-old success of reuse.


So, What Can We Do?

As Individuals: The “No Bag November” campaign invites individuals to participate actively. Open that broom closet and dust off your reusable bags and pledge to refuse single-use plastic bags throughout November. Heal the Bay is offering to collect your stash of single-use plastic bags for upcycling, in exchange for a reusable tote.

Creating Systemic Change: To create a lasting impact, we must influence systemic change. Earlier this year, Reusable LA launched “Hold the Plastic, Please” tip cards to increase awareness of plastic foodware laws with your local businesses and encourage them to join the movement against plastic pollution. Get your tip cards to help us create systemic change beyond the plastic bag.

Don’t Forget Who to Hold Responsible: Big Oil and Big Plastic

Big Oil and Big Plastic: While we might fear the “Plastic Bag Monster,” the true villains in this story are Big Oil and Big Plastic. These industrial giants relentlessly produce plastics that harm our environment and frontline communities and funnel millions of lobbying dollars to stop us from passing laws regulating their production. It’s time to shift the responsibility to these industries and demand stringent regulations to reduce plastic pollution at its source.


The “No Bag November” campaign is our opportunity to rekindle our commitment to the environment. Beyond just saying “no” to single-use plastic bags, it’s a chance to rally against the true adversaries: Big Oil and Big Plastic. As a community, let’s stand together to demand stronger policies and push for lasting change. Below are options for you to embrace “No Bag November” and exchange your single-use bags for a reusable tote:

  • November Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanup: Help rid the beach of harmful plastic pollution during our LAST BEACH CLEANUP of 2023. Bring your collection of single-use plastic bags to Toes Beach on Saturday, November 18, 2023 from 10am-12pm, to make sure they are properly recycled and receive a reusable tote in exchange. REGISTER IN ADVANCE HERE! Or show up at 10 AM on Saturday! This event will be held rain or shine.
  • Drop-Off Box at Heal the Bay Aquarium: Stop by Heal the Bay Aquarium at the Santa Monica Pier to drop off your collection of single-use bags to be upcycled (see our list plastic film products you can leave at our collection sites). Drop-off is available anytime at our Admissions Entrance during public hours, Wednesday – Sunday 12pm-4pm.
  • Drop-Off Box at Alma Backyard Farms in Compton: Come by Alma Backyard Farms’ big Thanksgiving event to drop off your single-use bags in exchange for some swag – and shop for organic local produce! Event will be November 19th 8am-1pm at 801 E Redondo Beach Blvd, Compton, CA 90220. More information about this regular event here!

Check out our list of plastic film products you can drop off at any Heal the Bay Collection Site!

What We Take – Plastic Film_2

Thank you to our “No Bag November” Partners! 

  • Ridwell – providers of plastic bag collection bins and reusable totes 
  • LA County Department of Public Works – providers of reusable totes 
  • City of Los Angeles – providers of reusable totes 
  • ALMA Backyard Farms
  • Porsche (Nothin’ But Sand Sponsor)