Heal the Bay Blog

Category: News

Heal the Bay Reusable is Beautiful. Earth Month 2024

Celebrate Earth Month and all things reusable with Heal the Bay!

Join our “Reusable is Beautiful” Earth Month activities to help you ditch single-use plastic and keep our oceans healthy.

Every year, billions of pounds of single-use plastic flood our oceans, threatening the health of our planet. This month and every month, Heal the Bay is committed to raising awareness about choosing reusable options over single-use plastic and keeping our waterways clean, safe, and beautiful for everyone.

Fun, inspiring activations are happening all month for everyone – individuals, families, schools, and more! Grab your reusable water bottle, sunscreen, and friends for climate action fun near you!

Heal the Bay Earth Month 2024 Calendar of Special Events

👇👇👇SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE FULL LIST OF EVENTS and get involved this Earth Month with #ReusableIsBeautiful events and activities from Heal the Bay and our partners! 👇👇👇

Get Safety Talk Certified for Earth Month -FREE

Monday, March 25, 2024: VIRTUAL or IN PERSON

Become a Heal the Bay Safety Talk Speaker!

Our fun, impactful Nothin’ But Sand cleanups rely on fantastic volunteers like you! As a Safety Talk Speaker, you’ll educate beachgoers about Heal the Bay’s mission, impact, and safety practices. This is your chance to:

  • Educate thousands of volunteers about Heal the Bay’s work. (e.g., 20,000+ lbs of trash removed in 2023!)
  • Lead confidently by learning best practices for beach cleanups and authentic land acknowledgments.
  • Make a real difference for our coastlines and wildlife.
  • Gain public speaking skills to connect everyone from elementary school kids to the CEO’s of some of the region’s most prominent local brands and the science and policy that fuels Heal the Bay’s impact.

Two-Step Training:

  1. Virtual Safety Talk Certification: March 25, 6:00 PM
  2. In-Person Beach Captain Training: April 20, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Santa Monica Beach, Tower 1550)

Ready to dive in? Sign up today!

 Get Safety Talk Certified

Touch Tanks on Top of The Pier – FREE

Friday, April 5 12 PM -2 PM 

Join our Aquarium experts and LACC for an extra special touch tank on the Santa Monica Pier next to the Heal the Bay Welcome Center! Get close to some incredible aquarium animals and learn all about the fascinating creatures that call our oceans home.


 Plan Your Visit to the Santa Monica Pier

Plastic Pollution Advocacy Training (VIRTUAL) -FREE

Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 6 PM – 7 PM

Calling All Environmental Warriors!

Join Heal the Bay and 5 Gyres for a FREE virtual advocacy training to combat plastic pollution in California. Learn the power of grassroots activism and how to lead impactful campaigns targeting local and state plastic reduction efforts at our VIRTUAL training.

Master the tools to make a difference:

  • Understand key plastic pollution policies.
  • Craft persuasive messages for decision-makers.
  • Make impactful calls to representatives.
  • Submit compelling written comments on legislation.

Become a voice for change:

Gain essential advocacy skills and join the movement for a plastic-free future. Let’s make our voices heard and pave the way for a healthier planet!

Help Heal the Bay 5 Gyres depose the disposables!

Join our plastic policy workshop with Heal the Bay’s Coastal and Marine Scientist, Emily Parker and 5 Gyres’ Policy & Programs Director, Alison Waliszewski. Gain insights on the plastic bag ban, LA’s 2023 plastic laws, Heal Bay’s anti-plastic bills, and why 2024 might be a game-changer for plastic reduction in LA!

 Register to get the Zoom Link

April Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanup -FREE

Saturday, April 20, 10 AM – 12 PM @ Santa Monica Pier

Earth Month Beach Cleanup Leveled Up!

Join Heal the Bay’s Nothin’ But Sand at Santa Monica Beach on April 20, 2024 (10 am-12 pm). Fun awaits! Enjoy spin-the-wheel games, trash relay races, and a marine science exploration station, and win #ResusableisBeautiful raffle prizes! All attendees gain FREE ACCESS TO HEAL THE BAY AQUARIUM for the day! Help clean & celebrate a healthier planet with 1000+ other volunteers at LA’s biggest Earth Month cleanup of 2024!

 Register for Nothin’ But Sand

Celebrate Earth Day at Heal the Bay Aquarium 

Saturday, April 20, 11 AM – 4 PM

Dive into Earth Month at Heal the Bay Aquarium! Fun, educational exhibits & live demonstrations await ocean enthusiasts of all ages. Explore the wonders of Santa Monica Bay & meet the fantastic local animals that call it home.

Saturday, April 20, 11 AM – 4 PM

Come to Heal the Bay Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier for a non-stop day of Earth Month fun!

  • Take an Earth Month pledge
  • Enjoy crafts, chalk art, and face painting
  • Learn about our state flower with California Poppy Kits
  • Participate in an Earth Month Scavenger Hunt
  • Collect limited Edition Earth Month Pins
  • Take 20% off reusable items in the gift shop

Join the Earth Month Beach Cleanup to get free entry to the Heal the Bay Aquarium Earth Month Celebration!

 Plan Your Visit

2024 LA City Nature Challenge BioBlitz -FREE

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Heal the Bay’s Safe Clean Water Program returns with an Earth Month BioBlitz! Heal the Bay staff will host two events with the 2024 LA City Nature Challenge, sponsored by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences. Join us on Saturday, April 27th, at Bixby Marshland or Fern Dell in Griffith Park for an afternoon of ecological exploration!


Wake & Dance with DAYBREAKER @ Santa Monica Pier

Saturday, April 28, 2024, 6 AM to 9 AM

Join the DAYBREAKER Peace Tour to the Santa Monica Pier! Rise and shine to help protect what you love. Some proceeds will support Heal the Bay programs that keep our coastal waters and watershed clean and healthy for all.

 Get Your Tickets

Rising Tides Discussion Panel @ Hermosa Beach Community Center -FREE

Sunday, April 28, 2024, 3 PM

Our coastline is shrinking. But what can Los Angeles do about it?

Attend the discussion panel of the year at Hermosa Beach Community Center, “Rising Tides: Exploring LA’s Readiness for Sea Level Rise,to find out.

Join three leading experts on climate change, environmental policy, and community resilience as they sit down to unpack the challenges facing LA’s coast and explore solutions for a more sustainable future:

Discover how fossil fuels impact the Pacific shore and delve into equitable approaches to protecting our communities. RSVP now to reserve your FREE seat!


Stussy x Heal the Bay Collaboration Launch 

Friday, May 3, 2024, 9 AM

Stüssy x Heal the Bay returns with a limited-edition capsule collection launch!  100% of the proceeds from this collaboration will be donated to Heal the Bay to support our marine and coastal watershed protection work!

This exclusive collection of Stüssy x Heal the Bay retail will be available at

Get your shopping cart ready and mark your calendar for the 2024 collection drop on May 3, 2024. Last year’s collection sold out in 15 minutes, raising over $75,000 to protect our coastal waters and watershed.



All Earth-Month-Long at Heal the Bay 

Did you miss out on Earth Day fun? Enjoy these Heal the Bay activations all month long!

Heal the Bay Reusable is Beautiful. Earth Month 2024

 FREE Beach Wheelchair Rentals @ Heal the Bay Aquarium 

April 2024, 9:30 AM – 11 AM

Beach Wheelchair at Santa Monica PierNeed a beach wheelchair to enjoy some fun in the sun? Everyone should be able to enjoy a day at the beach, so come to Heal the Bay Aquarium to access our manual beach wheelchairs, which are available for FREE public rentals.

Pick Up Location Details

Heal the Bay’s Beach Wheelchair rental program helps provide accessibility to one of nature’s most inspiring and critically essential resources and was made possible thanks to funding from The Coastal Conservancy. Learn more about our Beach Wheelchair Rental Program:

Earth Month: Battle of the Babies @ Heal the Bay Aquarium

Join Our Self-guided Beach Cleanup Competition – All Month Long

Are you feeling competitive this Earth Month? Are you ready to defeat the trash on Santa Monica Beach? Then join the Battle of the Babies all month long at Heal the Bay Aquarium!

Lead your team in a self-guided cleanup of Santa Monica Beach, choose which animal you would like to support, and at the end of the month, we’ll tally the total pounds collected by each fandom to see which baby will emerge triumphant!

Stop by Heal the Bay Aquarium to grab a FREE bucket and support your favorite fishy friend: the adorable swell shark pup or the darling California skate baby. This Earth Month, let’s see who emerges victorious in the battle against beach pollution!

Questions? Contact Heal the Bay Aquarium

“Hold the plastic, please!” #Selfie Challenge

Enter for a chance to win Heal the Bay Swag in this social media challenge

Calling all eco-warriors and selfie champions! Help your favorite restaurant ditch plastic for a chance to win awesome Heal the Bay gear .

Here’s the deal:

1) Ask your fave restaurant to “Hold the plastic, please!”

2)Snap a selfie with your HTPP card♻️

3)Post it to social media using #ReuableisBeautiful and tag @healthebay

Win epic Heal the Bay swag for showing your support!

Need a reminder card? Grab one at our #ResuableisBeautiful station, Heal the Bay Aquarium on the Santa Monica Pier, or download a digital one to flash at your next meal.

PSA to Restaurants! LA’s new plastic laws mean less waste and more savings for you! Confused about utensils, takeout containers, or the bag ban? We’ve got all the info on our website. 

Let’s make #EarthMonth plastic-free and selfie-worthy!

Download a Hold the plastic, please! Card

Protect What You Love with a Heal the Bay Member”Ship”

Join our crew! Climb aboard the SS Heal the Bay Membership!

Our Member“Ship” is full of passionate and dedicated Heal the Bay supporters working to ensure that coastal waters and watersheds in Southern California are safe, healthy, and clean for generations to come. Thanks to the generous annual support of our Member“Ship” Crew, we can further our efforts through science, education, community action, and advocacy. Become a member and join our Crew!


$55: Membership for one adult*
$95: Membership for two adults* 

$95: Family Membership for two adults + up to 2 children*

Member” Ship” Includes:

  • Free admission to Heal the Bay Aquarium for one year
  • 25% discount on guest admission tickets
  • 10% discount on retail purchases at the Heal the Bay Aquarium Gift Shop
  • 5% discount on Aquarium Science Camp
  • Heal the Bay’s digital Blue Newsletter
  • AQ Movie Night
  • Special Member-Only Tide Pool Excursions

Become a Member TODAY!

Gear Up for Earth Day with Heal the Bay 

Level up your drip while leveling up the ocean!

Nothing says #ReuseableIsBeautiful this Earth Day like swag from Heal the Bay! Shop comfy appeal, unique gifts, and reusable goods, all for a great cause!

Shop Heal the Bay

Heal the Bay Earth Month 2024 Tabling Calendar 

Check out our list of Earth Month events hosted by some of our favorite social, environmental, and partner organizations across Los Angeles. Stop by Heal the Bay’s Outreach table while you’re enjoying Earth Month fun around Los Angeles County this April.

Gardena Spring Equinox Earth Day Event, Johnson Park, 1200 W 170th St. Gardena, CA, March 17, 9 AM – 12 PM

Pepperdine Earth Day Celebration, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, April 9, CA, 11 AM – 2 PM

Generation Earth/Tree People 2nd Annual Environmental Youth Summit, 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, April 11, 9 AM – 10:15 AM and 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

LA County Sanitation Districts, Earth Day Celebration, 1955 Workman Mill Rd, Whittier, CA, April 13, 1o AM – 2 PM

City of Azusa Outdoor Recreation and Eco Fair, Memorial Park, North Recreation Center Parking Lot, 340 N Orange Ave, Azusa, CA, April 13 10 AM – 1 PM

Tarzana Neighborhood Council 11th Annual Earth Day Festival, Tarzana Park, 5655 Vanalden Ave, Tarzana, CA 91356, April 13, 10 Am – 2 PM

STEAM Expo, 2368 Pearl St, Santa Monica, CA, April 13

Resilient Palisades Earth Day 2024, Palisades Village Green, 15280 Sunset Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA, April 14, 9 AM – 1 PM

SONY Pictures Entertainment Earth Month, April 18

Wild for the Planet, LA Zoo, 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA, April 20 – April 21, 10 AM – 4 PM

South Bay Parkland Conservancy Earth Day Event, Wilderness Park, Redondo Beach, April 21, 10 AM – 1 PM

CSUDH 2024 Earth Day Festival, April 23, 9 AM – 3 PM

CSU Dominguez Hills 17th Annual Earth Day Festival, 1000 E Victoria St, Carson, CA, 10 AM – 2:30 PM

Loyola High School Earth Week Fair, 1901 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, April 25

Paradise Canyon Earth Week Fair, Paradise Canyon Elementary, 471 Knight Way, La Cañada Flintridge, CA, April 26, 6 PM – 8 PM

2024 Arts and Literacy Festival, Virginia Avenue Park Campus, Santa Monica, April 27, 10 AM – 2 PM

Beverly Hills 21st Annual Earth Day, 9300 Civic Center Dr, Beverly Hills, CA, April 28, 9 AM – 1 PM

 Celebrate the Earth beyond April

APPLY TODAY – 2024 Coastal Clean-Up Day Poster ARTIST

Calling all ocean-loving artists!

Let your artwork advocate for our ocean this Coastal Cleanup Day!

Win $1,000 and see your artwork all over Los Angeles County on the official Heal the Bay Coastal Cleanup Day poster!

Submit a portfolio of your work and a concept for a poster that captures the essence of our theme: “Reusable is Beautiful.”

**Think vibrant colors, powerful messages, and inspiring imagery to showcase the beauty of reusables and the importance of protecting our oceans. **

Show us your vision!

Submissions are accepted until May 31st, 2024. See full details and application here!

Enter to win the opportunity to become our 2024 COASTAL CLEANUP DAY Poster Artist!

Apply Here

Bring Back the Beach Gala

Celebrate #ReusableIsBeautiful


You are cordially invited to our Bring Back the Beach Gala on May 16, 2024.

As a fundraising benefit for Heal the Bay, this exclusive West Coast event welcomes hundreds of business, political, entertainment, and environmental leaders. Reserve your tickets to our biggest event of the year! 

Our 2024 GALA is SINGLE-USE PLASTIC-FREE because at Heal the Bay, we believe  #ReusableIsBeautiful! Help keep single-use plastic out of our watershed when you “BRING BACK THE BEACH” this May.


Coastal Cleanup Day Site Captain Training

Become a Site Captain or Co-Captain and host a Heal the Bay cleanup site in LA County for Coastal Cleanup Day 2024!


LA’s biggest volunteer event returns!

Join Heal the Bay’s Coastal Cleanup Day on Sept 21st, 2024.

In 2023, over 7,000 Heal the Bay volunteers removed over 16,000 lbs. of trash and 400 lbs. of recycling from 97 miles of beach, river, underwater, and trail cleanup sites!  Help us make an even more significant impact in 2024.

Want to lead a cleanup site? Sign up for Site Captain training on Thursday, 5/30/2024, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. More Site Captain training dates to come.

+The deadline to sign up to be a CCD Site Captain is 7/31/2024.


Make waves for a sustainable future in Greater Los Angeles by making your Earth Month donation to Heal the Bay.


Heal the Bay and Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation have been collaborating to reduce impacts to the Santa Clara River Estuary from the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility since 2011, following a legal settlement (consent decree) with the City of Ventura. After more than a decade of scientific studies, bureaucratic negotiations, infrastructure planning, and a lengthy permitting process, we are excited that the VenturaWaterPure project is moving forward. The project will provide a net benefit to the estuary by reducing discharge of treated wastewater from the facility, which has a multitude of negative impacts on water and habitat quality in the estuary. 

On December 15, 2024, Heal the Bay joined our consent decree partners along with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Michael Brain, to celebrate this water recycling and ecosystem restoration project. 

Heal the Bay’s Associate Director, Science & Policy (Water Quality) Annelisa Moe (left) attends the VenturaWaterPure press conference.

Under CA State law, discharging treated wastewater is considered an unreasonable use of that water, and is therefore illegal, unless it provides an environmental benefit. Unfortunately, based on conclusions from a Science Panel and Technical Advisory Committee, treated wastewater flow into the naturally brackish Santa Clara River Estuary does not benefit the ecosystem, but actually negatively affects it in a variety of ways: 

  • Decreases salinity variability, which is favorable for invasive species 
  • Increases levels of nitrate and other nutrients leading to low dissolved oxygen levels, which is harmful to the entire ecosystem 
  • Heightens the water level in the estuary leading to local flooding at McGrath State Park and unseasonal estuary berm breach events, which impedes public access and is harmful to native and listed species 

So the City of Ventura has committed to dramatically reduce their discharge to the estuary and limit nutrient loading in any remaining discharge through the VenturaWaterPure project. The project also offers a co-benefit of up to 1.76 billion gallons of new recycled water supply for the City of Ventura by 2032. This supports the human right to water using an approach that is environmentally protective and affordable, especially when compared to other methods such as importing water, or using ocean water desalination.  

Heal the Bay will continue to work closely with Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation and City of Ventura to ensure the transition to reduced discharge is protective of the estuary, that the new brine discharge to the ocean is done responsibly using the best available technology, and that the existing treatment ponds (which currently serve as important bird habitat) remain protected as part of the final VenturaWaterPure project.

Support Heal the Bay’s mission to protect public health through clean water policy:

Make A Donation

Read More:

Heal the Bay’s 2011 report on The Santa Clara River estuary

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visits Ventura water treatment project, Ventura County Star

Take time to commemorate this Black History Month and learn about the African American environmentalists who helped shape our environmental history.

Advocating for Environmental justice is a pillar of Heal the Bay’s decades-long mission, but environmental justice cannot exist without racial justice. The historical reality is staggering: Black communities in the US have borne the brunt of pollution, climate change, and limited access to green spaces. This systemic injustice demands immediate action.

But amidst the struggle, hope emerges. Let’s celebrate some Black luminaries in the environmental movement who have paved the way for a brighter future. These inspiring leaders have created invaluable space and opportunities, empowering the next generation of young Black voices fighting for a just and sustainable planet.

Enjoy our micro-museum and let it inspire a more profound journey into the history of environmental justice and its pioneers.

Please view our list of resources, including a list of non-profit organizations established to engage and serve local black communities and beyond and events to continue your education and celebration of Black History Month!




Black leaders in both the American environmental justice and environmentalist movement.

Majora Carter

Dr. Robert Bullard

Inell Woods

Charles Young

Lisa P Jackson

Dr. John Francis

Margie Eugene-Richard

Nick Gabaldón


Majora Carter’s impact transcends titles from South Bronx activist to national changemaker. More than just an award-winning strategist and broadcaster, she’s a John D. and Katherine T. McArthur Foundation Genius Grant” recipient whose groundbreaking work redefined urban renewal, environmental protection, and restoration. In the 1990s, she ignited hope in her community by transforming a mere $10k grant into South Bronx’s first waterfront park in 60 years, a testament to her unwavering belief that “no community should shoulder more burdens than benefits.”

This wasn’t just a park; it was a catalyst. Carter went on to found Sustainable South Bronx, empowering residents to reclaim their environmental rights and fight for green spaces. Today, her Majora Carter Group continues this legacy, equipping low-income communities across the US with the tools and strategies to build healthier, revitalized environments, fostering prosperity and resilience.

Inspired? Dive deeper into Carter’s journey through her powerful TED Talk “Greening the Ghetto” and learn more about her fight for environmental justice.

Majora Carter: Greening the ghetto | TED Talk

#Enviornmentaljustice history is still being made. #Black history is environmental history.


Dr. Robert D. Bullard, a sociologist and American academic, is regarded as the “father of environmental justice.” His decades of leadership as an advocate and educator continue to shape the future of environmental equity for marginalized communities.

From Marine Corps sergeant to “father of environmental justice,” Dr. Robert D. Bullard’s life is a testament to tireless advocacy and groundbreaking research. After serving his country, Bullard dedicated himself to academia, earning degrees in government studies (Alabama A&M), an M.A. in sociology at Atlanta University (Clark Atlanta University), and culminating in a Ph.D. (Iowa State University). His dedication bore fruit in the 1978 landmark Bean vs. Southern Waste Management lawsuit, where he led research exposing the discriminatory placement of toxic waste facilities near communities of color. His findings revealed that “Black neighborhoods were the predominant site for most of the solid waste disposal sites in Houston, yet they represented only 25% of the total population,” and that race was the “driving force behind this environmental injustice.”

His research, later published in Solid Waste Sites and the Black Houston Community,” sparked national outrage and became the first major study to document environmental racism.

Bullard’s impact extends far beyond one case. He co-founded the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, fostering collaboration and establishing core principles of the modern environmental justice movement. These principles were championed by Bullard at the federal level, influencing the Clinton administration’s Executive Order on environmental justice and earning him a recent appointment to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council under President Biden.


Community activism and environmental justice go hand-in-hand.

Although Woods was not primarily known for environmental work, this tireless community activist who championed fairness and inclusion for South LA will soon have her legacy etched in green space. After a decade of dedicated work on the part of Heal the Bay, local government officials, and the community itself, the empty lot that once encouraged the very disparities that often impact inner-city communities of color across the street from her long-time home will finally become a “safe green space” bearing the name “Inell Woods Park.”

More than just a park, this space embodies the values Mrs. Woods fought for throughout her life. From rallying for seniors and organizing meal programs to advocating for green spaces in neighborhoods like the South LA community of Green Medows, she understood the interconnectedness of community well-being and environmental justice.

Recognizing this connection, the park itself is designed with sustainability in mind. Native plants will reduce long-term potable water needs, and shade trees will be added as a crucial step in addressing the urban heat island effect that disproportionately impacts regional communities of color like South LA.

Beyond aesthetics, Inell Woods Park is a testament to community activism’s power and ability to create lasting positive change. As South LA’s first “stormwater park,” the space was designed to capture rainwater, and a Permavoid system will be used to treat stormwater. The park’s innovative stormwater system is designed to reuse 16,000 gallons of water, starkly contrasting traditional irrigation methods and showcasing a commitment to environmental responsibility.

This long-awaited space is more than just a park; it’s a symbol of hope, resilience, and a thriving future for South LA, forever intertwined with the legacy of Mrs. Inell Woods.

At the future park’s community awareness event in 2022, City Councilman Price took time to commemorate the namesake of the site: “I am honored to name our newest park Inell Woods, in honor of a community champion who spent her life advocating for fairness, inclusion and ensuring the South L.A. community was supported,” Price said. “This park is the community’s gift to Mrs. Woods and the tremendous legacy she has left behind.”


After ten years of work, plans have been finalized to break ground on this space in the Spring of 2024. Learn more about the park: Inell Woods Park 2024 Fact Sheet


Charles Young was the highest-ranking African-American commanding officer in the United States Army from 1894 until his death in 1922. He also served as the first African-American superintendent of a national park, overseeing Sequoia and [Kings Canyon] National Parks while commanding a troop of Buffalo Soldiers in the years before the creation of the National Park Service.

Born to enslaved parents in Kentucky in 1864, Young’s parents, Gabriel and Arminta Young, moved to Ripley, Ohio, in 1866 with their two-year-old son Charles to improve their prospects after the Civil War. In 1889, Charles Young was the third African American to graduate from West Point.

Colonel Charles Young’s story and leadership are symbolic of the experience of the Buffalo Soldiers during difficult and racially tense times.

In 1866, the Congress established six all-black regiments, later consolidated to four, to help rebuild the country after the Civil War and to patrol the remote western frontier.

“The Buffalo Soldiers were an important part of the early history of America’s national parks. Before Congress created the National Park Service in 1916, the U.S. Army was critical in administering several parks. The Army sent the Buffalo Soldiers to manage Yosemite, [Kings Canyon], and Sequoia National Parks in California. The Buffalo Soldiers blazed early park trails, built roads, produced maps, drove out trespassing livestock, extinguished fires, monitored tourists, and kept poachers and loggers at bay.”



Lisa P. Jackson, the first African-American EPA Administrator, has created a powerful legacy for Black History Month and beyond. She has spent her career breaking barriers, championed critical environmental advancements during her tenure with the EPA (2009-2013), and was featured on Time magazine’s 2010 and 2011 lists of the “100 Most Influential People in the World”. There is so much she has done and continues to do to protect our planet!

“During her tenure from 2009 to 2013, Administrator Lisa P. Jackson focused on seven priorities for EPA’s future: taking action on climate change; improving air quality; cleaning up our communities; protecting America’s waters; assuring the safety of chemicals; expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for environmental justice; and building stronger state and tribal partnerships.” (EPA.GOV)

Jackson tackled climate change head-on, paving the way for EPA action with her 2009 endangerment finding on greenhouse gases. Her focus extended beyond improving air quality, cleaning communities, protecting waterways, and ensuring chemical safety. She didn’t just talk the talk – she implemented clean air standards and a groundbreaking clean cars program, leading to more fuel-efficient vehicles.

But Jackson’s impact goes deeper. She prioritized environmental justice, empowering historically underrepresented communities and strengthening protections for vulnerable groups. This legacy of action, inclusion, and progress makes her a true inspiration for environmental movements everywhere.


The collision of two oil tankers and the subsequent environmental destruction wrought by this infamous oil spill sent Dr. John Francis, known as “Planetwalker,” on a remarkable journey that transformed him into a renowned conservationist, educator, and bestselling author. After witnessing the devastating San Francisco Bay oil spill in 1971, Francis made a radical choice: he walked. For 22 years, he shunned motorized vehicles, traversing the US and Latin America on foot, all while earning a Ph.D. in Land Management.

But his commitment went beyond movement. He took a powerful 17-year vow of silence to amplify environmental awareness, breaking it only on Earth Day 1990. From then on, Dr. Francis dedicated himself to conservation, becoming an influential voice in policy and education.

His achievements are as impressive as his journey. He is the National Geographic Society’s first Education Fellow, a UN Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador, and an acclaimed author. He even played a crucial role in crafting oil spill regulations after the Exxon Valdez disaster, earning recognition from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Dr. Francis’ story isn’t just about walking; it’s about action. He inspires us to challenge norms, speak up for our planet, and dedicate ourselves to creating a more sustainable future.


In Norco, Louisiana, the predominantly Black community of Old Diamond found itself squeezed between a Shell Chemical plant and an oil refinery. Fear of accidents and the harsh reality of elevated cancer, congenital disabilities, and respiratory issues were everyday life. These stemmed from decades of environmental contamination.

 After years of being subjected to these environmental risks and following her sister’s death from a rare bacterial infection, Margie Richard founded the Concerned Citizens of Norco (CCN) in the early 1990s. This environmental justice group demanded a solution: fair resettlement. Years of tireless leadership, including commissioning a community-based air quality study, finally paid off. In 2002, CCN secured a historic agreement with Shell, leading to the relocation of Old Diamond residents to safer communities.

 Margie Richard’s unwavering efforts made her a pioneer of the environmental justice movement. In 2004, she became the first African-American to receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, a testament to her impact.

Margie Eugene-Richard (1941-present) is a powerhouse in environmental justice. Her campaign to stop significant corporations from polluting her family home led to one of the most significant environmental lawsuits in recent history.


Amidst the discriminatory Jim Crow era, Santa Monica Beach reflected the harsh reality of divided shores. “Inkwell Beach,” a meager 200-foot zone restricted to Black beachgoers, served as Nick Gabaldon’s unlikely launching pad. Here, he defied boundaries, teaching himself to surf on a borrowed lifeguard’s paddleboard, carving his name as the first documented African American Latinx surfer of Santa Monica Bay.

But Nick’s spirit couldn’t be confined by ropes or prejudices. Undeterred by the lack of a car, he embarked on 12-mile paddle journeys to Malibu, the epicenter of West Coast surfing. Despite being the only Black surfer, he found acceptance among the predominantly white community.

Then, on June 5th, 1951, tragedy struck. Nick, drawn by the allure of an eight-foot swell, paddled his usual 12 miles to ride the mythic Malibu Pier righthander. After catching a legendary wave, he attempted a daring maneuver – shooting the pier itself. Sadly, his board was found, but his body wouldn’t resurface until days later. Nick, at just 24, lost his life to the sea’s unpredictable power.

Eerily prescient, Nick had penned a poem titled “Lost Lives” for his Santa Monica City College literary magazine six days before his fatal attempt. Its haunting lines echoed the ocean’s dark allure:

The sea vindictive, with waves so high
For men to battle and still they die.
Many has it taken to its bowels below;

Without regard it thus does bestow
Its laurels to unwary men.

Nick Gabaldón, the trailblazing surfer, left behind a legacy not just of his skill, but of his courage and spirit, forever etched in the waves of history.


The “Black in Marine Science” Spotlight

Swipe through the Black in Marine Science List of “6 Black Marine Scientists You Should Know About“. Follow @blackinmarinescience  to learn more about this “premier organization aimed to celebrate Black marine scientists, spread environmental awareness, and inspire the next generation of scientific thought leaders.”

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Get Engaged- Check out this list of Black History Celebrations and activations in Los Angeles.

Get Activated Download this list of  Non-profit Organizations established to engage and serve local black communities and beyond.

Heal the Bay is proud to announce that our volunteer program can officially endow Presidential Volunteer Service Awards!

We are excited to take part in this nationwide program to honor and recognize our most outstanding volunteers.  


What is the Presidential Volunteer Service Award?

Over the past 20 years, the PVSA has been dedicated to recognizing the significant impact made by volunteers in communities all around the country.

“In 2003, the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation founded the President’s Volunteer Service Award to recognize the important role of volunteers in America’s strength and national identity. This award honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities in every corner of the nation and inspires those around them to take action, too.”  –The President’s Volunteer Service Award (

Led by the AmeriCorps and managed in partnership with Points of Light, this program allows Certifying Organizations to recognize their most exceptional volunteers.

Beginning this 2024 Winter Season, Heal the Bay volunteers will be able to apply for a PVSA at the start of every year. These applications will summarize hours completed in the previous calendar year, e.g., applications submitted in January 2024 will cover hours completed throughout 2023.  

Ready to apply for your Presidential Award?

Volunteer Eligibility: 

  • United States citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States (i.e., green card holder) 
  • Must be at least eleven years old 
  • Completes eligible service within a 12-month period (for annual Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards) and over a lifetime (for Lifetime Achievement Awards) 

Eligible Service: 

  • Unpaid acts of volunteer service benefitting others 
  • Service through National service programs that provide a stipend (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) may count towards the Lifetime Achievement Award, but not for the annual Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards) 
  • Travel stipends, transit/parking passes, membership passes, expense reimbursements, and other nominal volunteer support do not impact service eligibility 
  • Please Note: At this time, only volunteer hours completed within Heal the Bay programs are eligible to be certified.  

Service hours vs Award Distinction


How to apply:  

  1. Complete Heal the Bay PVSA applications. Applications will open from January 15 – February 28 of the current year. Apply Here 
  1. Applications will be reviewed on March 1, of the current year (March 1, 2024). 
  1. Presidential Volunteer Service Awards will be confirmed by the end of March of a given year.


Thank You for All That You Do! 

“Large waves at the Manhattan Beach Pier draw onlookers on Saturday. The pier was closed to the public due to the high surf.” (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Waves of Waves in a Future of Climate Change

From the Desk of Meredith McCarthy, Director of Campaigns & Outreach and a Heal the Bay leader for over 20 years.

With almost macabre curiosity my boys and I head to Manhattan Beach last week to get a peek at the recent monster swell and watch the “gnarly” waves roll into Santa Monica Bay. I try to see the 10-foot sets through their eyes. The waves pound the beleaguered shoreline, a rolling thunder, an epic echo of Mother Nature’s raw power. The crunching swell is a formidable challenge for surfers struggling to paddle out. But as countless YouTube Nazare videos have shown, big waves are a challenge that can be tamed by humans.

LA Times image: A person standing on a sand berm watches as high surf breaks near Manhattan Beach on Thursday. The National Weather Service has issued high surf warnings for much of the West Coast and parts of Hawaii, describing the waves and rip currents expected to hit certain coastlines as potentially dangerous and life-threatening. (Richard Vogel / Associated Press)


I want to cling to the surfer’s narrative that these waves are gifts, a rare occurrence to be treasured. But the recent swell demonstrates that these waves are as much to be feared as cherished.

They are a preview of the future ahead of us and a reminder that a disaster can happen over decades, not just seconds. And they beg the question: can we ever really tame these waves?

Book Cover California Against the Sea houses and ocean waves

Rosanna Xia’s new book “California Against the Sea” opened my eyes as to why escalating impacts of climate change are intricately linked to the heightened severity of winter storms in the North Pacific, setting the stage for profound and harmful impacts to our beloved coast. (Purchase the book locally at Diesel Bookstore)

During my 20 years at Heal the Bay, protecting what you love has been our mantra. That mission will be harder to meet in the years to come. This recent swell is just one small harbinger of the many challenges ahead. 

The connection lies in the intricate dance between climate change and the dynamics of these storms. Warmer oceans provide the necessary energy for storms to intensify, amplifying wind speeds and precipitation rates. This, in turn, translates into more powerful and potentially devastating winter storms. 

The implications for coastal areas, such as Santa Monica Bay, extend beyond the immediate visual spectacle of towering waves. We all were held in awe and fear as we clicked on videos of eight people being toppled over by a rogue wave in Ventura and winding up in the hospital. 

The increased storm intensity poses a dual threat: First, the potential for more severe storm surges that can inundate coastal communities, and second, the exacerbation of sea level rise. As ice continues to melt and ocean temperatures climb, sea levels rise accordingly. The cumulative effect is a compounding threat to coastal communities and the regional economies they support.   

Satellite image shows a massive storm in the Pacific Ocean on December 28, 2023 generating damaging surf along California. Photo Credit: CIRA/ RAAM B/ Fox Weather.

The huge surf becomes a symbol not just of the immediate dangers but of a broader trend — one that demands strategic foresight and effective management.  Addressing the impacts of climate change requires a holistic approach that encompasses significant efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation strategies to safeguard vulnerable coastal areas.  

It can seem hopeless sometimes, but I look at my kids staring at the towering waves crashing on the sand. I wonder if they can hear the ticking of a time bomb amid the roar of the sea. I know we must act, take one small step and then bigger ones, facing this challenge head on. 

Like our volunteers, the way to keep our legs under us is to rise each day in services of positive action.  Our Heal the Bay volunteers are the village we rely upon to realize our mission – check out one of the opportunities below:

Become a Heal the Bay Volunteer – Orientation (Jan 11, 6p-8p): Take the first step toward helping Heal the Bay work for safe, healthy, clean coastal waters and watersheds. Come to our in-person Volunteer Orientation at Heal the Bay Aquarium.

Participate in the next King Tide’s Project on January 11 & 12, 2024, & February 9, 2024: The California King Tides Project helps us visualize future sea level by observing the highest tides of today. You can help by taking and sharing photos of the shoreline during King Tides to create a record of changes to our coast and estuaries. Observe and document King Tides on your own or join a scheduled group event.

Los Angeles King Tide Watch 2024 will be held at Manhattan Beach Pier Jan. 12, 8:30-9:30am at Roundhouse Aquarium. Join nature enthusiasts and scientists to document the King Tide of 2024 at the base of the Manhattan Beach Pier. More information and RSVP

Join our January Beach Cleanup (Jan 20, 10 Am – 12 PM): Heal the Bay hosts cleanups every 3rd Saturday of the month (rain or shine)!  This January’s storms are sure to make a mess of our beaches so kick-off your New Year’s Resolution by attending the next “Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanupon January 20, 2024, at Tower 2, Zuma Beach, 10 am – 12 pm.  Register today to reserve your bucket.


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.


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