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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Plastic Pollution

Los mares y océanos son fundamentales para la vida y el equilibrio de nuestro planeta, pero lamentablemente, cada año terminan en el mar grandes cantidades de plástico, siendo una problemática muy importante.

En el 2010 se estimó que entre 4.8 y 12.7 millones de toneladas de plástico entraron al mar. Sin embargo, la producción de plástico aumenta un 3.7% anual. Para el 2015 se produjeron 322 millones de toneladas, de las cuales Estados Unidos generó el 18.5%1.

los angeles nonprofit environment ocean volunteer

En este punto vale la pena preguntarse qué sucede con el plástico en los ambientes acuáticos. El efecto más evidente es visual porque no es atractivo encontrar basura y residuos en ríos, mares y playas. Esa situación presenta consecuencias económicas porque afecta al turismo, al comercio y adiciona costos por limpieza e impuestos. ¿Pero hay consecuencias adicionales? Así es, la vida acuática podría enfrentar la peor parte y haber impactos posteriores en los seres humanos. Algunos organismos lo ingieren en forma de microplástico, lo que podría causar atascamiento y/o el ingreso a la cadena alimenticia de sustancias tóxicas que hacen parte del plástico o que son absorbidas por éste2. Asimismo, los seres humanos podrían consumir tanto microplástico como toxinas a través del pescado, la comida de mar y el agua potable.

El microplástico hace parte de productos como los cosméticos y también es generado cuando el plástico se fractura y deteriora en el ambiente. En general, el microplástico se encuentra distribuido ampliamente tanto en el agua, como el suelo y el aire. En la actualidad, se desconocen gran parte de las alteraciones y consecuencias que el microplástico y sus toxinas puedan generar en los organismos, los ecosistemas y los seres humanos. No obstante, se han iniciado estudios serios para definir sus efectos reales y diseñar estrategias para controlarlos y reducirlos3.

¡Tú sí puedes hacer la diferencia!

Los temas de conservación y prácticas más amigables con el ambiente aparecen a diario y muchas veces se piensa que es algo lejano, que es responsabilidad de otros o que desde la propia realidad poco o nada se puede hacer ¡pero no es así!

¡Desde la cotidianidad se puede hacer mucho!

¡Desde la cotidianidad se pueden hacer pequeños cambios que sumados hacen la diferencia!!

Manos a la obra!

Ahora mismo se puede empezar a hacer la diferencia mediante cuatro metas alcanzables:

1. Evitar el uso de pajillas plásticas: beber directamente del vaso o con pajillas biodegradables o metálicas.

2. Evitar el uso de foam: emplear recipientes de papel o contenedores reciclables. California está trabajando para eliminarlo completamente y se espera pronto su prohibición.

3. Evitar el uso de bolsas plásticas: cargar bolsas reutilizables y no comprar productos sobre-empacados.

4. Disponer adecuadamente la basura y recoger el plástico en playas y cerca a fuentes de agua.

¡Las acciones individuales son una manera real y efectiva para lograr cambios importantes dentro de la sociedad si son adoptadas y multiplicadas por otras personas!

Sources:
1. Microplastics in fisheries and aquaculture. Status of knowledge on their occurrence and implications for aquatic organisms and food safety. Food and Agriculture Administration of the United Nations. 2017. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i7677e.pdf
2. Toxicological Threats of Plastic. United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2017. https://www.epa.gov/trash-free-waters/toxicological-threats-plastic#how
3. Microplastics Expert Workshop Report. EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. December 2017. file:///D:/Documents/Heal%20the%20Bay/microplastics_expert_workshop_report_final_12-4-17.pdf



plastic straws malibu ban

This week the City of Malibu took California a step closer to the sipping point by enacting an ordinance banning the distribution of polymer and bioplastic plastic straws. The new law also prohibits local establishments from giving out plastic and bioplastic stirrers and cutlery.

Restaurants have until June 1 this year to transition to more sustainable products, such as paper or metal straws and bamboo forks, knives, and spoons.

Let’s pause here – just for a flippin’ moment – and JUMP FOR JOY at this momentous win!

Plastic straws suck

Beverage-related items account for roughly 40% of the trash in our environment. Heal the Bay has long campaigned to curb the plastic plague through our beach cleanups, helping establish zero trash policies to protect local waterways, defending California’s hard-fought plastic bag ban, and advocating for other local and statewide policies to require greener alternatives to commonly littered plastic items.

Over the past 15 years, Heal the Bay volunteers have removed nearly 100,000 straws from beach cleanups throughout L.A. County. That’s 100,000 straws too many. So in response to this staggering local trend, we ran a Strawless Summer campaign last summer, partnering with businesses and encouraging Angelenos and visitors to forego the plastic straw.

Start sipping and stop sucking

Our ultimate goal was for restaurants and cities to become aware of the local plastic pollution problem and recognize how simple it is to be solution-oriented and transition to a straws-upon-request approach where straws aren’t given out freely, but instead, customers have to ask for them (much like we do for water in California). So, we were thrilled that the City of Malibu not only is moving to straws-upon-request, but also making it a requirement that restaurants only provide environmentally friendly, non-plastic cutlery, straws, and stirrers.

What’s the deal with bioplastics?

Some may wonder about why bioplastics are included in the ban. Although they are largely made from greener source-products than petroleum, like sugar cane and corn starch, they provide litter and waste management challenges. Bioplastic products don’t readily break down in rivers, creeks and the ocean; instead they require the high heat and bacteria provided by industrial composting facilities to decompose.

Strawless forever

We found through our Strawless Summer campaign, businesses and their customers are generally on board with green business practices, especially when it makes both environmental and economic sense.

The report issued by the City of Malibu to evaluate policy options and alternatives found that the cost difference between plastic and more sustainable alternatives is minimal – it’s only about $.01 more per straw for paper straws.

Thank you Malibu, for helping L.A. to stop sucking. Who is next?



Heal the Bay Year In Review 2017

 

It’s been a hot year, but these 7 memories helped us keep our cool.

 

7. Marching for Science, NOT Silence.
Fighting Federal rollbacks with 50,000 Angelenos. Watch Facebook LIVE video >


(Photo Credit: Austin Francalancia)


 

6. Skipping the Straw.
Empowering local business patrons to reduce plastic pollution in our seas. See campaign >

Plastic Free


 

5. Protecting the Pacific Seahorse.
Caring for local animals and willdlife at our S.M. Pier Aquarium. Explore our Aquarium >

Pacific Seahorse


 

4. Changing the Course of the L.A. River.
Expanding the River Report Card to protect public health and habitats. View the River Report Card >


 

3. Championing Community Cleanups.
Leading 37,000+ volunteers to remove 418,000+ trash and debris items. Sign up for a 2018 cleanup >

Los Angeles Beach Cleanup


 

2. Bringing Back Ballona.
Advocating for the robust restoration of L.A.’s last remaining large wetland. Get the latest update >


 

1. YOU!
Your voice. Your time. Your energy. Your contribution. Thank YOU.

We want to make new memories and powerful change next year. But, we can’t do it without the support of ocean lovers like you.


Year in Review Infographics


Will you make your tax deductible Year-End Gift today?
(If you’ve already given this season, thank you.)

Make Your Year-End Gift



As Strawless Summer comes to a close, Heal the Bay is committing to a strawless forever. We’d also like to thank all of our partners and pledges for making this campaign possible.

In America, food and drinks are routinely served with a side of plastic. One coffee comes with a cup, sleeve, lid, stirrer, straw, sugar packet and cream. A breakfast burrito includes a wrap, container, salsa, utensils and bag. But just because it’s always on the menu, doesn’t mean we have to order it.

If you’ve been to one of our beach cleanups in greater Los Angeles, you don’t need crazy stats to shock you – like 500 million plastic straws being used in the U.S. every day1. You’ve seen our pollution challenges first-hand. In fact, around 40% of the trash found in the environment is beverage-related2, and single-use plastic straws are one of our most commonly found items at cleanups.

A post shared by Heal the Bay (@healthebay) on

“No straw, thank you”.

This simple statement, echoed by eco-conscious patrons in restaurants, bars, coffee shops and to-go eateries, is the murmur of a movement aimed at combating the single-use plastic convenience craze.

Earlier this year, Heal the Bay joined the straw-free movement and launched the Strawless Summer campaign to raise awareness and reduce plastic straw distribution in Los Angeles County.

Here are a few highlights:

“Straws Upon Request”

We’ve come to expect plastic straws available at dispensers, tossed on our tables and placed in our drinks without asking for them first. What would happen if we turned the tables? This is what we aimed to address in our “Straws Upon Request” Study.

During Strawless Summer, we partnered with three local Santa Monica establishments (Pono Burger, The Misfit, Ingo’s Tasty Diner) to pilot a 4-week program aimed at reducing plastic straw distribution. Patrons wouldn’t be given straws by waitstaff unless they asked for them, in the same way customers must ask for glasses of water during the drought.

A post shared by Kathy (@katkelleher2) on

Did people totally freak out? No. Was it easy to implement? Yes. Did it earn the businesses major goodwill with green locals? Yep, it most certainly did.

If patrons asked for straws (one restaurant said this happened about half the time), the waitstaff explained their absence from the experience was part of a local effort to be more green. Then, the restaurant offered paper or plastic straws.

“We chose to participate in a Strawless Summer because it is great for the environment and the Bay. We are a locals restaurant and have a huge locals following a lot of whom spend a good amount of time in the Bay [and] ocean,” said one restaurant manager who participated in the study.

See more local establishments who pledged to go straws upon request during Strawless Summer.

MonSTRAWsity Hits Home

Here’s a frightening truth: the average American family uses 1,752 straws in a year3. To visualize this fact, we collected plastic straws at our coastline cleanups and pieced together the MonSTRAWsity, whose suit is made out of… 1,752 straws. The MonSTRAWsity spent the summer wreaking havoc on the Santa Monica Pier near the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, in the South Bay and all over Los Angeles. By the end of Summer, the MonSTRAWsity was even surfing the airwaves.

A post shared by Heal the Bay (@healthebay) on

The Sipping Point

It’s estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by weight. Another study shows microscopic plastic fibers are being detected in 83% of drinking water worldwide and a whopping 94% of U.S. tap water4. Microplastics are even showing up in table salt, according to new research.

Heal the Bay’s Nothin’ But Sand, Adopt-a-Beach and Suits on the Sand cleanup volunteers together have collected close to 13,000 plastic straws and stirrers5 from L.A. County beaches in 2017 alone.

Local inaction is our own worst enemy; however, on the flip side, local action is our best opportunity. Heal the Bay will continue to work with businesses, environmental partners and local municipalities to curb the proliferation of plastic pollution, including advancing alternatives to plastic straws and only providing straws upon request.

L.A. doesn’t have to suck. Let’s rethink the drink and stop the alarming plastic pollution trends from continuing.

Learn more about the benefits of skipping the straw and make the pledge to go straw-fee at LASucks.org

Looking for something fun to share? Download this amazing poster below created by illustrator Daniela Garreton – please make sure to give her credit for this masterpiece. (Download PDF).

Our Strawless Summer 2017 campaign would not be possible without this tribe of water warriors: Thank you to Mick and the team at ZehnerGroup, Susan Lang (creator of the MonSTRAWsity and Heal the Bay volunteer extraordinaire), Andrea Maguire and the STRAWS documentary team, SoHo House Malibu, All At Once, Jack Johnson and the Ohana Foundation, Lonely Whale Foundation, 5 Gyres Institute, Klean Kanteen, Simone Boyce and KTLA 5, and all the awesome local businesses who pledged to go Strawless or “Straws Upon Request”, we salute you!

Special shout outs to these local businesses for their participation in Strawless Summer:

Pono Burger, The Misfit, Ingo’s Tasty Diner, Bareburger Organic, Laurel Tavern, Hermosa Beach Fish Shop, Beckers Bakery & Deli, Brother’s BurritosTallulas and Watermans Safehouse

Sources:
1. “The Be Straw Free Campaign”. National Park Service Commercial Services. (Last update 11/26/2013) https://www.nps.gov/commercialservices/greenline_straw_free.htm
2. Plastics BAN List. Publication. 5 Gyres, Clean Production Action, Surfrider Foundation, USTREAM. 2016. http://d3583ivmhhw2le.cloudfront.net/images/uploads/publications/PlasticsBANList2016.pdf
3. “The Be Straw Free Campaign”. National Park Service Commercial Services. (Last update 11/26/2013) https://www.nps.gov/commercialservices/greenline_straw_free.htm
4. “New Research Shows Plastic Fibers in Drinking Water”. Plastic Pollution Coalition. (published 9/6/2017) http://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/pft/2017/9/6/microfibers-the-plastic-inside-us
5. Heal the Bay’s Marine Debris Database. (data pulled from 1/1/2017-9/21/2017) http://sites.healthebay.org/MarineDebris/MDDB/



Spending time with some exceptional students at the 28th annual Coastal Cleanup Day serves as a real pick-me-up for Communications Director Matthew King.

After 10 years at Heal the Bay, I’ve become a bit jaded about our cleanups. I see the same mounds of trash every time I head to a site – cigarette butts, plastic water bottles, fast-food wrappers, you name it.

In the time I’ve worked here, our cleanup volunteers have removed more than 2.6 million items of man-made debris from L.A. County shorelines. That astounding figure stirs mixed emotions. It’s saddening to realize that we still treat our natural places as trash dumps, but it’s also reassuring to know so many Angelenos still care enough to donate a Saturday morning to protect what they love.

Coastal Cleanup Day 2017 was no different. Under pleasantly overcast skies, volunteers stretching from Compton to Malibu collected roughly 23,000 pounds of trash in just under three hours. To put that in perspective, that’s about the weight of two enormous T. Rex dinosaurs!

Beyond the usual suspects, we found a few oddball items this year – a drone that must have crash landed underneath the Redondo Pier, a whole set of unopened men’s dress shirts resting forlornly on the sand at Will Rogers State Beach, and a jock-strap and cup in Palos Verdes. (Props to whoever had the nerve to pick it up!)

It’s also revealing to see what we didn’t find. A veteran site captain at Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve was astounded how few plastic bags they found at this L.A. River location, which has historically been visibly choked with plastic bags. It’s a good sign that the recently passed state ban is working!

In all, more than 9,600 volunteers joined us at 61 sites across the County today. We always mobilize a cross-section of greater L.A, both the famous and not-so-famous. I’ve met professional surfers, NBA centers, All-Star outfielders and Oscar-winning actors. But it’s usually the everyday folks like you and me who have interesting stories to tell.

Take the inspiring group of six students from Bell Gardens High School who served as site captains for our beach cleanup in Playa del Rey today, under the caring guidance of teacher Patty Jimenez.  The youth brigade — Angel Diaz, Christopher Linares, Heidi Lara, Kimberly Gonzalez, Otzara Villalobos and Vanexi Jaramillo — mobilized 342 volunteers, who collected 235 pounds of ocean-bound debris.

I first met four of these kids last Wednesday morning at a KTLA Channel 5 news shoot to promote today’s cleanup. They had all arisen at 3 a.m., clambered into Patty’s sedan and traveled 23 miles in darkness to do a series of live interviews at the Del Rey Lagoon. With the bright lights of the camera staring them down as dawn broke, they spoke passionately and endearingly on live TV about their desire to curb cigarette-related pollution. Patty beamed at each of her charges, nodding as they offered simple but powerful testimony.

But what really touched me that chilly morning had come a half hour earlier.  I had approached Patty’s car to give the group a heads-up and to share some media tips. A gaggle of kids sat quietly inside, dressed in their teen uniform of denim, hoodies and Vans tennis shoes.

And then I saw something beautiful that made me well up.

In the cramped back seat, two students scanned textbooks, using their mobile phones to illuminate the pages in the dark. They were doing their math homework — in an unfamiliar neighborhood, hours before their school day would start and hours before most of their peers would even be awake.

I told Patty how moving the sight had been and she shared that that these students’ work ethic and optimism keep her motivated when she faces obstacles at school. She shared that this same group of students played a lead role last month in convincing the Bell Gardens City Council to adopt its first ban on smoking in parks and recreation areas.

The simple scene in the car gave me a moment of hope about the public school system, and Patty’s story gave me hope about the next generation of environmental stewards. This is why I work at Heal the Bay, to help my colleagues create leadership opportunities for students like Patty’s, to connect people from all across our region to their watersheds and to each other.

That to me is the real gift of Coastal Cleanup Day.

You can find more images from the day on our Flickr album and at our Facebook Page (check out the new videos, too).

Thank you to all our site captains, volunteers, partners and staff. We couldn’t have done this without you! And a special thank you to this year’s organizers, sponsors and otherwise remarkable organizations: California Coastal Commission, California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, City of Santa Monica, Golden Road Brewing, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, Schuchart/Dow, Union Bank, LAcarGUY, KIND Snacks and REI, as well as our photographers Nicola Buck, Cali Gilbert and Alvin Lam.

If you weren’t able to join us today, we have many volunteer opportunities throughout the year – out in the field, in our offices, or at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Explore the various options and time commitments here.



Estamos todos preparados para el Día de la Limpieza Costera, mañana es el día. Cada año, con la ayuda de nuestros voluntarios, recogemos datos para calcular los resultados. Como es un evento global, se puede ver los resultados de aquí, el condado de Los Ángeles, pero también se puede ver los resultados de otros lugares como, México o Brasil.

En el año pasado, en el condado de Los Ángeles se recogieron 29,635 escombros con la ayuda de 9,556 voluntarios. De los escombros, 28,087 eran basura y 1,548 eran reciclables. La cosa recogida más interesante fue un estetoscopio.

En Belize se recogieron 11,289 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 937 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 91,884 libras de escombros de 29.9 millas de costa. La cosa recogida más interesante fue un árbol navideño cual incluia las luces.

En Brasil se recogieron 3,082 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 1,977 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 31,255 libras de escombros de 34.5 millas de costa. La cosa recogida más interesante fue un frasco de perfume.       

En Guatemala se recogieron 21,066 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 440 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 81,452 de escombros de 9.1 millas de costa. La cosa recogida más interesante fue una lámpara.

En México se recogieron 131,396 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 20,588 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 898,234 de escombros de 127.3 millas de tierra. La cosa recogida más interesante fue un microonda.

En Puerto Rico se recogieron 127,573 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 17,943 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 597,940 de escombros de 253.6 miles de costa. La cosa recogida más interesante fue una muñeca de vudú.  

Explora los resultados del Día de la Limpieza Costera, un evento global que está celebrado por todo el estado de California, cuando voluntarios recogen basura y escombros de las playas, los ríos, los arroyos, los parques y los espacios públicos. Contamos todo lo que recogen los voluntarios para concienciar sobre los desafíos de la contaminación. Heal the Bay está orgulloso de coordinar los sitios de limpieza con La Conservación del Mar y La Comision de la Costa de California.



Summer is coming to an end, but our #StrawlessSummer Campaign is a pledge you can keep all year round.

We are thrilled to be joined by local businesses like Pono Burger, The Misfit, Ingo’s Tasty Diner, Bareburger Organic, Laurel Tavern, Hermosa Beach Fish Shop, Beckers Bakery & Deli, Brother’s BurritosTallulas and Watermans Safehouse for our “Straws-Upon-Request” campaign. These businesses are leading the way to change consumer behavior across our region. If a straw is absolutely needed, biodegradable paper straws are available by request.

Americans use roughly 500 million plastic straws daily – that’s enough to fill up 125 school buses and to wrap around the planet 2.5 times. Because they aren’t readily recyclable, most plastic straws end up in landfills, and the rest wind up polluting the environment. Plastic pollution is a major problem, in fact it’s estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea by mass than fish. Skipping the straw is an easy way to make a big difference.

L.A. sucks at times, but we don’t have to! We just launched our new campaign microsite (thanks ZEHNERGROUP). You can take the pledge to go strawless, catch up on the latest straw-related news, share with your friends and find out which local restaurants and bars are going straws-upon-request. Learn more at lasucks.org.



coastal-cleanup-day-collage-banner-v2-e1500322971809

Regístrese para El Día de la Limpieza Costera 2017

Miles de personas limpiarán las playas, los ríos, los parques, las escuelas, y las cuencas hidrográficas por todo el estado de California (un medio millón de personas por todo el mundo) en el sábado el 16 de septiembre — El Día de la Limpieza Costera, el día del voluntario más grande del mundo.

Es un movimiento global compuesto de las comunidades y las organizaciones locales. Juntos podemos quitar basura y escombros de los hábitats locales, nuestros barrios, y ciudades.

Además de crear un medioambiente más limpio, todo lo que recogerán los voluntarios va estar registrado para concienciar sobre los desafíos de la contaminación. En El Día de la Limpieza Costera 2016, había más que 18.3 millones libras de basura y escombros recogidos en unas horas. ¡La unión hace la fuerza!

Eventbrite - Coastal Cleanup Day 2017


Participe en El Día de la Limpieza Costera

¿Quiere meterse más en El Día de la Limpieza Costera? Hay muchas oportunidades de participar:

  • Capitán del sitio: Ayúdenos a informar los voluntarios, explorar la defensa del agua, y prepárese para el evento del voluntario más grande del mundo. Regístrese.

 

  • Prácticas: Las prácticas son para la gente que ama el mar, defensores de los animales, y los que sueña para agua limpio. Solicite hoy para ganar experiencia en apoyar un evento de voluntario masivo y disfrutar de trabajar con uno de los más fiable (y divertido) fines de lucros en Los Ángeles.

 

  • Colaboración: De realizar las quedadas empresarial, los actividades de fitness en el aire libre y entretenimiento, hasta las ofertas de comida y bebida, hay muchas maneras de participar. Hagamos algo juntos. Contactenos.

 

  • Recaudación de Fondos: Entrege a sus ideas para un nueva campaña creativa de Heal the Bay de crowdfunding. Creemos que albergar un evento de nadar desnuda en el puerto de Santa Mónica es más divertimos que girar un cheque. Inspírese.

 

  • Patrocinios: Ayúdenos en hacer que este evento sea una experiencia inolvidable para los voluntarios. No pierda la oportunidad de ganar buena voluntad para su marca. Contactenos.

 


¿Porque tenemos un Día de la Limpieza Costera?

Explorar las historias y los resultados del Día de la Limpieza Costera, un evento global que está celebrado por todo el estado de California, cuando voluntarios recogen basura y escombros de las playas, los ríos, los arroyos, los parques y los espacios públicos. Contamos todo lo que recogen los voluntarios para concienciar sobre los desafíos de la contaminación. Heal the Bay está orgulloso de coordinar los sitios de limpieza con La Conservación del Mar y La Comision de la Costa de California..

🐟 Comunicado de Prensa para El Día de la Limpieza Costera 2017

🐟 Artículo de lo que se puede esperar de Día de la Limpieza Costera 2017

🐟 Galería Fotográfica del Día de la Limpieza Costera 2016

🐟 Los Resultados del Día de la Limpieza Costera: Global

🐟 Los Resultados del Día de la Limpieza Costera: El Condado de L.A. & Global

🐟 Los Resultados del Día de la Limpieza Costera: El Condado de L.A.



The Strawless Summer - Heal the Bay

L.A. doesn’t have to suck.

The relentless traffic, all the annoying wannabes, and the really, really long lines for literally everything. (Seriously, I just wanted a cold brew & cronut!) Okay, fine. These things do suck! But, they don’t define us.

Diverse communities, vibrant businesses and a beautiful environment – this is what makes greater L.A. so desirable to call home. From the San Gabriel mountains to the Bay, we are a cultural and economic hub built on creativity, innovation and resilience. But escape from the hustle-and-bustle of undercover celebrities, hashtag fads and trendy avocado toast is only a short trip away. Whether it be to hike on nature trails, shred down mountains, swim in the sea or explore the desert, we are blessed with natural and urban settings that are uniquely intertwined.

Yet, our everyday lifestyle choices are having a negative impact that we can no longer ignore.


(Photo by: Henrique Vicente, Flickr. January 2017.)

Plastic pollution is everywhere.

The consequences and costs of convenience related to single-use plastic packaging for food and beverages are surfacing in our ocean, rivers, creeks and streams. It’s now estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean by mass than fish1.

Plastic drink-related litter is one of the top items we find at our volunteer cleanups in beach and watershed areas across greater Los Angeles. Single-use lids, cups, bottles, sleeves, stirrers, six-pack rings, and straws. You name it, we find it. Our region isn’t the only one that needs to consider rethinking the drink. Some 40% of all debris found in the environment is beverage-related2.

Heal the Bay Strawless Summer

And all this trash isn’t just gross. It’s dangerous. Marine mammals, fish and birds often get entangled in plastic or mistake pieces of it for food. After accumulating our trash in their gullet, the animals can’t digest food properly and often die.

Just keep sippin’.

Greater L.A. can lead the way and help shift America away from single-use plastic items. We took a giant step when Heal the Bay helped pass the statewide plastic bag ban in 2014 and California voters upheld the policy last year.

But this summer, we’re zeroing in on plastic straws because they totally suck.

Strawless Summer - Heal the Bay

Plastic straws of all shapes, sizes and colors are popping up everywhere from juice boxes to cocktails to unasked-for glasses of water. Collectively, Americans use roughly 500 million plastic straws daily – enough to fill up 125 school buses each day3 and wrap around our entire planet 2.5 times. Most plastic straws end up in landfills. The rest wind up polluting the environment and posing a threat to aquatic life.

So, here’s what we are asking you to do. It’s simple and it works:

The Strawless Summer

It is starting to heat up this summer, so now is the perfect time to cool off and skip the straw. We just launched our new microsite, lasucks.org, where you can take the pledge to go strawless, share with your friends, find out which local restaurants and bars are going straws-upon-request or strawfree and keep up-to-date on straw-related news and events.


1. The New Plastics Economy Rethinking the future of plastics. January 2016. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_The_New_Plastics_Economy.pdf
2. Plastics BAN List. Publication. 5 Gyres, Clean Production Action, Surfrider Foundation, USTREAM. 2016. http://d3583ivmhhw2le.cloudfront.net/images/uploads/publications/PlasticsBANList2016.pdf
3. “The Be Straw Free Campaign”. National Park Service Commercial Services. (Last update 11/26/2013) https://www.nps.gov/commercialservices/greenline_straw_free.htm



In honor of Earth Day, we break down the three biggest challenges our seas are facing and outline practical steps you can take to help turn the tide.

Sip smarter

Here’s a troubling thought: It’s estimated that there will be more plastic by mass than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050. In the last 30 years, our volunteers have removed more than 2 million pounds of trash from our shores – that’s the weight of two fully loaded 747 passenger jets! Drink related trash forms the bulk of man-made debris found at Heal the Bay cleanups, accounting for 36% of all items found on L.A. County beaches.

This summer, Heal the Bay is launching its “Rethink the Drink” campaign, but you can get started today by saying “No thanks” to single-use straws, plastic water bottles, coffee lids and beverage cups. And do your part by signing up for one of our monthly beach cleanups.

Change the climate

Here’s another disturbing thought: L.A. County could lose more than half of its beaches by 2100 due to coastal erosion related to warming seas, according to a just-released study from the U.S. Geological Survey. Reducing our carbon footprint is a complicated endeavor involving multi-national agreements, but there are easy steps you can take in your daily life to reduce your impact on the sea. Transportation and food choices are an obvious place to start as a consumer. If you own a car, try taking public transit once a week. If you aren’t a vegetarian, think about skipping meat one day a week.

Heal the Bay also encourages you to speak out against proposed federal budget cuts that would drastically slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate research. Read more about how essential the EPA is to our work and sign our petition.


Exposed bedrock on the beach, below the University of California, Santa Barbara. (Credit: Daniel Hoover, U.S. Geological Survey.)

Fishing for answers

Approximately 90% of fish stocks of large predatory fish like tuna have disappeared globally, and more than half of all fish stocks have been maximized. That means we should all opt for sustainable seafood and eat lower down on the ocean food chain. There is much more to fine sea-dining than tuna, salmon and halibut! Widen your palate and the ocean will thank you. Check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood guide so you can make ocean-friendly choices when eating from the sea. And visit the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium to learn more about our local marine animals and habitats.

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If you really want to get your activist on this Earth Day, please join staff and supporters Saturday morning in downtown L.A. for the national March for Science.