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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Plastic Pollution

World Oceans Day is on Saturday, June 8, 2019. Heal the Bay shares a roundup of fun ocean-inspired events in the Los Angeles area that you won’t want to miss!

On World Oceans Day people around the globe come together to honor our oceans, which cover over 70% of Earth’s surface and sustain one million species of animals.

Looking for things to do around L.A. to immerse yourself in the marine world? From the worlds of science, art, film, and fashion, here are six World Oceans Day events nearby that you should consider adding to your social calendar.

Atlas Obscura: Aquatic Gender Fluidity
Fri. June 7, 7pm-9pm @ Heal the Bay Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier

This unique Heal the Bay Aquarium event was created specifically for Pride Month🌈! Enjoy cocktails, listen to speakers from the LGBTQ+ community, and learn how many marine species in our oceans change sex, gender roles, and use forms of asexuality to survive. Laura Rink, Associate Aquarium Director at Heal the Bay Aquarium will discuss the gender diversity of our local marine inhabitants followed by a presentation from transgender speaker and educator, Michelle Dennis, who joins us on behalf of PFLAG.

RSVP


Recycled Plastic Lifeguard Tower Inauguration
Sat. June 8, 9am-Noon @ Manhattan Beach

See how plastic waste can be transformed into usable products. Get your coffee to-go Saturday morning (in a reusable cup!) and come down to Manhattan Beach pier on the sand at Bruce’s Beach (26th Street). Watch how the ByFusion team diverts 1,420 pounds of plastics and recycled surfboard foam waste into a functional Lifeguard Tower. The tower will be on display until sunset on #WorldOceansDay.

RSVP


“Reef Paintings” Exhibition
June 1-16 @ Silverlake

Dulce Stein and The Neutra Museum are proud to present ‘Reef Paintings, Cataloguing Nature’s Fingerprint’ by Michael Torquato deNicola in honor of World Oceans Day. The art exhibit covers the artist’s surfing adventures in Chile, Sumatra, Nicaragua, Maui, and California alongside his first-hand observations of the environmental impacts on reefs from plastics, polluted run-off, and development.

MORE INFO


“The Smog of the Sea” Film Screening
Sat. June 8, 12:30pm-5pm @ Heal the Bay Aquarium

Explore oceans of inspiration at the Aquarium with marine-themed games, activities, scavenger hunts, and crafts. “The Smog of the Sea” a 30-minute film by musician Jack Johnson about single-use plastic in our once pristine oceans will also be screened throughout the day.

MORE INFO


The MY HERO Project Short Films Screening
Sun. June 9, 2pm-4pm @ Santa Monica

Enjoy a free short film screening of uplifting short films that honor World Ocean’s Day and Peace and Social Justice, hosted by filmmaker and social justice activist, Trey Carlisle, and MY HERO International Film Festival Director, Wendy Milette. The event takes place in Moss Theater at New Roads School.

MORE INFO & RSVP


Fred Segal Malibu Trunk Show
June 6-9, 10am-9pm @ Malibu

Join our fashionista friends at Fred Segal Malibu for a trunk show celebrating World Ocean Day with their fully sustainable vintage collection; both luxury vintage as well as the Morphew Collection, which is made from one-of-a-kind vintage materials. In addition to donating proceeds to Heal the Bay, the Fred Segal team are also hosting a beach cleanup in the ‘Bu to give back.

RSVP


How else can you get involved?

 🐟 Become a Heal the Bay Sustaining Member for $9 a month.

 🐟 Pre-order your Heal the Bay x K-Swiss limited edition sneakers made from recycled and eco-friendly materials.

 🐟 Stay informed about beach water quality and practice safe swimming in freshwater, too.

 🐟 Sign our Plastic Petition to advocate for new statewide policies in California that drastically reduce single-use product and packaging waste.

 



California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act,

So, you heard California wants to eliminate single-use plastics? Here’s what you need to know and how you can help. Ready to take action? Urge our representatives to pass new policies by signing the Plastic Petition.

The California Senate and Assembly introduced two bills earlier this year that plan to drastically reduce plastic pollution. These bills are Senate Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080 and are referred to as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.

California is not alone in this endeavor to address single-use plastic at the source. Cities, nations and even the entire European Union have passed similar legislation. What do we know about these brand new bills, and what does the potential policy shift mean for California and the U.S.?

Here are some common questions and misconceptions about this important legislation.

I heard California is going to ban all plastic! Is that true?

The proposed legislation in California isn’t going to ban all plastic. Instead, the policies would set goals for the reduction of single-use disposable products and packaging, including plastics. By 2030, 75 percent of all single-use plastic packaging and products sold or distributed in California would need to be reduced, recycled or composted. After 2030, all single-use packaging and products must be effectively recyclable or compostable. As part of the shift toward a circular economy, the bills also instruct CalRecycle to develop incentives and policies to encourage in-state manufacturing using recycled material generated in California.

These targets would work similarly to California’s greenhouse gas emissions standards passed last year, which set a goal to move towards 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. The target was set and a plan will be developed to meet that target. Think of these plastics bills as a bold vision, with a specific plan to come later. Read the fine print.

What about recycling? Isn’t that important?

Yes, but, recycling as it exists today won’t solve the plastic pollution problem on its own.

Recycling is an important part of the puzzle, especially in the aftermath of China’s recently passed National Sword Policy that prohibits the United States from exporting our recyclables to China. India is quickly following suit, too. And we don’t blame them; it’s our dirty trash after all, and the United States needs a real plan to deal with it.

One of the key components of California’s bills is the standardized definition of what makes an item “recyclable”. For an item to be considered “recyclable”, it not only has to meet strict material requirements, but there also must be infrastructure in place that will ensure the proper recycling of that item, such as curbside pick-up and accessible recycling facilities.

It’s not enough for an item to be able to be recycled or composted, it has to actually happen.

Okay, so recycling is covered, but what about composting?

Just like recycling, these bills will create strict definitions and standardizations for compostable items. This clause will ensure environmental benefit by taking already defined standardizations such as “marine degradable” into account. As with recycling, the bill goes another step further and requires that items are actually being composted at proper facilities to earn the title of “compostable”.

Speaking of composting, what about compostable plastics? I heard those are okay to use!

Excellent question. It’s important to note that, although they sound sustainable, compostable plastics are not a good alternative. Compostable plastics may have benefits in the durable product world; however, they pose another set of issues for single-use products. They do not degrade in aquatic environments and require industrial composting facilities to break down, which we don’t currently have as part of the waste management infrastructure in greater L.A. The legislation being introduced in California will work to increase this infrastructure in L.A. and throughout the state so that all compostable items are being properly composted, helping to “close the loop”.

Wait, what does “close the loop” mean, and how is that related to a “Circular Economy”?

Right now, our global economies operate on what we call a “linear” system. We extract resources, produce products, and then discard the waste, known as “take-make-dispose”. Very little of those extracted resources are looped back into the economy to create new products, mostly due to cost and lack of infrastructure. A “circular economy” is the opposite system, where the raw materials used to make products are recovered to make new ones, with little to no waste. The process of moving from a linear system to a circular one is commonly referred to as “closing the loop”, and would drastically reduce our global waste and plastic pollution crisis by reducing the amount of waste we create. It’s sustainability at its simplest!

Didn’t Europe do something like this, too? Is California’s bill the same?

The European Union passed the EU Directive on Single-Use Plastics and Fishing Gear, a comprehensive plan to drastically reduce plastic pollution through a variety of different approaches. Sounds similar so far, but this directive is a bit different than what we have proposed here in the Golden State. Firstly, the main goal of this directive was to reduce plastic pollution, not necessarily reduce single-use plastics at the source. Secondly, the bill targets 10 very specific items that are most commonly found on European beaches based on beach cleanup data. Each item is then assigned one or more approaches, such as market restriction measures (an outright ban) or producer responsibility schemes (charging the maker of the product with the costs of cleaning it up). On the flip side, California is aiming to set broad plastic reduction targets, instead of focusing on specific items.

Hasn’t this already happened in some cities in California?

Sure has! We have seen the passing of comprehensive single-use plastics legislation in Berkeley, Santa Monica, and Manhattan Beach. There have also been strong plastics ordinances passed all over the state that focus on everything from single-use plastic straws to plastic foam to-go containers. A statewide act will help to strengthen already existing local legislation and give the rest of the state the incentive it needs to reduce its waste.

I’m on board! What can I do to help get this legislation passed?

We are stoked to hear you want to help! Throughout the next year, these new bills will be heard by multiple committees and by the state houses. Both bills have already moved through their first committee hearing and passed!

Now, the best thing you can do is let your state representatives know you support these bills. Sign our Plastic Petition urging the California Senate and Assembly to fast-track the approval of the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. Call, email or write a letter to your representatives and let them know about these bills and why you support this proposed legislation. Find your representative.

And if you live in the City of Los Angeles, please contact your City Council Member and tell them you support this State legislation and want to see something similar in the City of L.A. There is some movement at the City of L.A. to enact similar legislation, but we need more voices to push it along.

Lastly, take the Plastic Pledge and spread the word! The more support this legislation gets from local communities, businesses, organizations, and people like you, the more likely it will be passed. Raise your voice and stay tuned for updates.



Plastic Pollution Reduction - Heal the Bay

Earth Day is April 22, and we’re celebrating all month! You can take part in our Earth Month extravaganza by taking the Plastic Pledge, signing the Plastic Petition in favor of comprehensive environmental policies in California that drastically reduce plastic pollution, and attending one (or all!) of our special events in greater Los Angeles. Here’s a snapshot look at one of our biggest issues facing our oceans and waterways – and what you can do this month (and year-round) to make a difference.

Take the Plastic Pledge

It’s estimated that there will be more plastic by mass than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050. This Earth Month, Heal the Bay is launching the Plastic Pledge campaign. You can get started today by refusing single-use plastic and replacing one product or service with a safer and cleaner alternative.

Here’s how it works in 3 simple steps:

1. Complete this statement:  I Pledge to ________ during Earth Month.

Here are some sample Plastic Pledges from the Heal the Bay team:

  • I Pledge to shop local instead of buying from Amazon during Earth Month.
  • I Pledge to drink from a reusable cup during Earth Month.
  • I Pledge to carry a reusable shopping bag during Earth Month.
  • I Pledge to use metal straws only during Earth Month.

2. Make it known:

Download this template, customize it, and share it on social media! Tag us @healthebay and use #healthebay!

3. Tell the full story:

Once you make the Plastic Pledge, how easy was it to keep? Making a personal shift away from single-use plastic isn’t simple. Transportation, budget, and a lack of access to equitable choices can get in the way of our willingness to opt for the better alternative. So, there is no shame in failing – in fact, it’s totally OK to fail. That is part of the process, right?! If you fail, tell the full story in your social media post. Did your sandwich shop refuse to fill your reusable cup (call ‘em out!)? If you are able to succeed in your Plastic Pledge, acknowledge why you were successful by recognizing the resources and privileges you have access to that helped you succeed. Does your gym provide accessible water refill stations for your bottle (give them a shout out!)?


The Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors and Heal the Bay collaborate during National Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler State Beach. The event included cleaning up the beach, family-friendly activities, and a chance to enter the Can the Trash! Clean Beach Poster Contest. All Rights Reserved. No Commercial Use. Credit: Los Angeles County
Photo Credit: Mayra Vasquez, Los Angeles County

Sign the Plastic Petition

We are asking Californians to sign the Plastic Petition in support of State Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080, known formally as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Acts. The two statewide bills were recently introduced to drastically reduce plastic pollution. Read our FAQs here to learn more about the legislation and ways to get involved in addition to signing the petition.

Sign the Plastic Petition


The Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors and Heal the Bay collaborate during National Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler State Beach. The event included cleaning up the beach, family-friendly activities, and a chance to enter the Can the Trash! Clean Beach Poster Contest. All Rights Reserved. No Commercial Use. Credit: Los Angeles County
Photo Credit: Mayra Vasquez, Los Angeles County

Attend a Special Event

Take part in community science, volunteer to clean up our communities, and celebrate with us at a special event during Earth Month. Whether it’s celebrating Earth Day with 100’s of local animal and wildlife species at Heal the Bay’s Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier, or sipping on Heal the Bay IPA at our Earth Day Pop Up with Golden Road, we’ve got you covered with fun events and opportunities to give back all month.

View Earth Month Events


Become a Sustainer

Make a lasting gift in support of science-based education, advocacy, and community outreach in honor of Earth Month. Your generous monthly support of $9 starting this Earth Month sustains the health and growth of Heal the Bay, and ensures that L.A.’s water remains healthy, safe, and clean.

Make a $9 Gift for Earth Month

 



Today on #WorldWaterDay we celebrate women environmentalists who saw a problem, spoke up, and changed the world.

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

Despite these challenges, environmentalists of color and women continue to be on the front lines of creating change. Get to know these 5 women environmentalists who have created an inspiring and bold legacy of activism.

Wangari Maathai (1940 – 2011), Kenya

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

 

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Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores (1971 – 2016), Honduras

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

 

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Isatou Ceesay (b. 1972), The Gambia

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

 

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

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

 

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Dorothy Green (1929 – 2008), Los Angeles

Founder of Heal the Bay, the late Dorothy Green was a celebrated environmental and grassroots activist in California who stopped millions of gallons of sewage from being dumped into the Pacific Ocean and changed water policy in California. She also created the Los Angeles & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council (now the Council of Watershed Health). Her goal was to restore and preserve the ecological health of the ocean and watersheds and advocate for better water quality in the Los Angeles region. Her legacy lives on today in our organization’s mission.

In honor of National Women’s History Month, we thank these women environmentalists, from around the world, who fought for what was right despite facing strong opposition for simply being who they were. Women and girls are leaders in their communities and agents of change. Supporting and listening to them will benefit the health of our planet for generations to come.

 


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

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



Sustainable shopping is not just a trend – it may help save the world. However, the biggest impact we can make is creating comprehensive environmental policy that ensures equitable access to sustainable choices. One person can make a difference. One business can make a difference. And, so can we, as one community. For Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting two businesses run by women of color who are proving that it’s possible to be successful, sustainable, and make a positive social impact.

Shopping can be therapeutic for most. The instant gratification of hitting the “Buy Now” button or the bliss of un-bagging all the items purchased at the mall is irresistible. Though these experiences can gift us temporary relief, collectively they are extremely harmful to our environment.

From the abundance of unnecessary plastic packaging that winds up in landfills, communities, and ecosystems to the spewing of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during production and transportation, we need to see clearly that consumerism in the United States has contributed negatively to the health of our natural environment as well as our own health.

So how do we solve this issue — and quickly?

We all should hold ourselves responsible for making the right choice to safeguard the places we call home. It’s hard to imagine one’s individual impact from switching to an electric car, when fuel efficiency standards are threatened by the White House, or switching to be vegan to reduce their water and carbon footprints when farms aren’t required to reduce methane emissions.

Our individual decisions do cumulatively make a big impact. So it is especially important for consumers to shop ethically and sustainably while simultaneously demanding environmentally-responsible policies.

Our Power in Choice

As consumers, we have the power to choose companies that make a difference. And this is something worth acknowledging and celebrating. What’s exciting is that thousands of companies are actively developing innovative solutions. Meet these two company leaders in the beverage industry who are making a positive impact.


(Photo of Sashee Chandran, Founder and CEO of Tea Drops)

Tea Drops is a tea company created by Sashee Chandran, a Chinese-Sri Lankan American woman, that offers customers a locally-sourced, quality bag less tea that cuts out unnecessary waste. This process is markedly different than other tea products where polypropylene is used to make the tea bags.


(Photo of bag less tea by Tea Drops)

Sales of Tea Drops products support the Los Angeles-based, Thirst Project, by funding one year of clean water for someone in need – so choosing Tea Drops over other options not only reduces one’s waste footprint, but also contributes to water justice.

Another company promoting ethical production is Grosche, started by Helmi Ansari and Mehreen Sait, Pakistani Canadian partners. The company was built on the idea of ‘profit for change’ as opposed to profit for personal gain. They commit to funding 50-days of safe water for every product sold, including their adorable Shark Tea Infuser.


(Photo of Helmi Ansari and Mehreen Sait, Founders of Grosche)

Grosche has diverted 91% of landfill waste, uses 100% renewable energy, maintains a zero-carbon footprint, and has planted 10,000 trees in Africa and Haiti, while running a banana plantation in South Sudan to help grow food and create income for the local community. Biosand filters that purify water for 10 people, up to 25-30 years, are also offered to communities and families in need.


(Photo of the Shark Tea Infuser by Grosche)

Tea Drops and Grosche are incredible businesses moving in the right direction toward a sustainable future. We can’t stop there. We need to take their lead and advocate for policies that hold all companies and institutions accountable for their environmental impact. And we can’t afford to wait. The recent IPCC report reveals drastic change is needed within the next 12 years to protect our food and water supplies.

When we work together, we will see real change.

Check out HOVE Social Good’s Water Power Box, which features the products listed above. Every box sold gives $1 back to Heal the Bay! And also check out the box dedicated to HER Power to celebrate Women’s History Month.

www.socialgoodboxes.com


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



Meredith McCarthy, our Operations Director, is going plastic-free for 46 days. Pray for her soul.

Each year my faith tradition gives me the gift of a 46-day reflection period called Lent. I think of it as a spring cleaning of the soul. The season starts today, Ash Wednesday. The ashes are a sign of repentance, humility and mortality. Through the placement of the ashes on the forehead, believers acknowledge we have failed to be agents of love. We acknowledge our sins and work towards renewal.

Fasting is also big part of Lent. Going without feasts has its roots in early Christian tradition. As a child in Chicago, I’d often have to give up candy, making it a truly miserable month. I thought about giving up my nightly glass of wine this Lent, for a moment. Nah, let’s not go crazy, I thought.

But divine inspiration came from appropriate places this year – the Creation Care teams at Holy Family in Pasadena and American Martyrs in Manhattan Beach. I had been asked by the Catholic congregations to give a talk about plastic’s impact on our oceans. The parishes are encouraging their congregants to go on a Styrofoam fast and give up single-use plastic for lent. It’s part of a larger movement taking place across many faith communities.

As Director of Operations at Heal the Bay, I have stood hundreds of times ankle deep in plastic on our beach. It’s moved me to tears at times. You can see what I discovered recently on Santa Monica beaches after the first winter storm in this video.

All this plastic waste laying siege to our shorelines doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the sad byproduct of our daily “feast” of convenience. As a working mother of two, I too often partake in this feast. I am busy and tired most of the time. Using the handy excuse of harried motherhood, I have tried to absolve myself. But my faith and my planet require more. There may be no better way to renew my relationship with Mother Earth than to take responsibility for my lifestyle and the harm it may cause.

“We cannot allow our seas and oceans to be littered by endless fields of floating plastic,” Pope Francis said in Laudato Si, his major encyclical on the environment. “Our active commitment is needed to confront this emergency.”

So in order to be an agent of love, my family and I are giving up single-use plastic for the next 46 days. We have our metal sporks, plates and reusable coffee cups ready to go. I still have to  Google “how to shave legs with a safety razor,” but that’s a story for another day.

Stay tuned. I will be sharing my trials and tribulations. I’ll be toting a lot of reusable items for the family with me now. I think we’re going to need a bigger handbag!



SINGLE-USE PLASTIC

It’s estimated that there will be more plastic by mass than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050.

What we’re doing: Advocating for a ban on polystyrene food and drink containers in the City and County of Los Angeles. Following the model that propelled the statewide plastic bag ban in 2014, we are fighting to rid our beaches and neighborhoods of polystyrene trash. Our volunteers have removed more than 500,000 bits of Styrofoam from beaches in L.A. County over the past decade!

What you can do: Encourage your favorite restaurants to go plastic-free voluntarily

CLIMATE CHANGE

L.A. County could lose more than half of its beaches by 2100 due to coastal erosion related to warming seas.

What we’re doing: Reducing our carbon footprint is a complicated endeavor involving multi-national agreements, but we’re committed to taking action locally. Our staff scientists are advocating for the restoration of the Ballona Wetlands and other natural buffers to climate change.  Our policy staff is advocating for infrastructure projects that capture and reuse treated wastewater, instead of piping water from up North at tremendous cost and energy use.

What you can do: If you own a car, take public transit once a week. If you aren’t a vegetarian, skip meat one day a week.

Credit: (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

POLLUTED WATER

There are roughly 175 impaired water bodies and 1,317 specific impairments* in greater L.A., meaning they exceed federal clean-water standards and require formal remediation plans.

What we’re doing: Heal the Bay holds polluters accountable by ensuring that cities adhere to their stormwater permits. These MS4 permits**, which will be renewed this year, allow dischargers to send runoff into the L.A. County stormdrain system as long as effluents do not exceed acceptable levels of metals, oils, harmful bacteria and trash. It’s a bit wonky, but watchdogging these permits is essential for maintaining safe and healthy water in our region.

What you can do: Pick up your pet waste … always. Patronize car washes that capture runoff. Reduce chemicals from reaching the sea by reducing your use of pesticides and fertilizers.


*A specific pollutant in a waterbody, measured at levels that exceed federal Water Quality Standards. Many waterbodies in the L.A. Region are impaired by multiple pollutants.

**Permits issued by the Water Quality Control Board that monitor and regulate pollution in stormwater runoff. 



“We cannot recycle our way out of our plastics problem. The only way is to eliminate its use in the first place.”  – L.A. City Councilmember Paul Krekorian.

The City of Los Angeles has long been a leader on environmental issues. The city’s plastic bag ban took effect in 2014, following years of advocacy by Heal the Bay’s science and policy team. Thanks to that effort, momentum built for a statewide ban that went into effect in 2016.

Since then, we have seen a marked reduction of single-use plastic bags in the state – some 70% reduction in bag litter, according to Californians Against Waste.

This week, the L.A. City Council made more progress toward moving forward on two new and critical goals to help reduce waste locally.

First, the Council voted unanimously Tuesday to craft a plastic straws ordinance that takes the statewide ‘single-use plastic straws on request’ policy even further. The new measure would require customers to explicitly ask for a plastic straw at all food and beverage facilities in the City of L.A., with a goal of phasing out single-use plastic straws by 2021.

Heal the Bay volunteers have removed more than 2.5 million pounds of trash from L.A County beaches, rivers and neighborhoods. Most of this trash consists of plastic, polystyrene and single-use items. Since 2000, Heal the Bay volunteers have picked up more than 126,000 straws and stirrers — these materials pose serious risks to our environment and local wildlife.

It’s becoming clear that we cannot continue to look at this plastic waste problem item-by-item; we must address it comprehensively. The negative impacts of single-use plastics on our oceans are well known. If we do not change our practices, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050 (by weight), according to a recent study.

Only a few hours after the full Council voted to move forward with drafting the Plastic Straws-On-Request Ordinance with hopes of implementing it by Earth Day 2019, its Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justices subcommittee also voted unanimously to propose an even more comprehensive zero-waste initiative to address ALL single-use plastic waste.

The zero-waste initiative instructs the Bureau of Sanitation to analyze the feasibility of pursuing alternative approaches to waste reduction (besides recycling). Examples include measures adopted by the EU (25% reduction in plastics production by 2030) and those in Berkeley (ban all single-use foodware used by restaurants and other food establishments).

The Bureau of Sanitation will report back to the Council within 60 days with a report on its findings and recommendations for further action.

Heal the Bay is heartened to see the city taking a firm stance on the critical issue of plastic pollution. As demonstrated by the plastic bag ban, the changes that we make here in L.A. can have far reaching impacts beyond our borders.

We have the opportunity to stand by California cities like Berkeley and Santa Monica, which have pursued aggressive plastic reduction efforts. Beyond curbing waste in our home, the measure would serve as a strong example for the almost 50 million tourists who visit L.A. each year.

When L.A. makes noise, the rest of the world listens.



Big news today from City Hall. Single-use plastic straws may be phased out of Los Angeles restaurants and food establishments by 2021.

L.A. City Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Nury Martinez announced the citywide Straws-on-Request initiative.

“Straws on request is another step by the L.A. City Council to remove more trash from our waste-stream, a waste-stream that currently and historically flows through the communities I represent,” said Martinez.

According to City Hall’s press release, “During the Energy, Environment, and Social Justice Committee  on Tuesday afternoon, O’Farrell instructed the Bureau of Sanitation to report back within 90 days regarding the feasibility of phasing out single-use plastic straws by 2021, and instructed Sanitation to work with the Department of Disability on methods and approaches to mitigate impacts to the disabled community associated with the phase out.”

“Plastic straws endanger our marine wildlife and they foul our lakes, streams, and rivers,” said O’Farrell. “With our economy of scale here in L.A. and a phase out, all businesses and manufacturers can join the initiative and pioneer low cost, biodegradable, disposable products.”

Heal the Bay’s ceo Shelley Luce spoke at the press conference about protecting L.A. for future generations.

“Since 2000, Heal the Bay volunteers have picked up over 121,000 straws and stirrers from Los Angeles County beaches,” said Luce. “It’s heartening to see businesses recognizing the problem and becoming part of solution.”

The Mon-straw-city made unsightly appearances in DTLA and at City Hall. Shout out to Danielle Furuichi, Heal the Bay Programs Coordinator, for rocking the straw-suit. And a special thank you to Susan Lang, Super Healer volunteer, for designing this upcycled trash costume made from 1,750 single-use plastic straws that were picked up at beach cleanups by Heal the Bay volunteers.

Stay tuned for more updates at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Talia Walsh, Heal the Bay communications associate director, shares this year’s preliminary list of beach trash finds in Los Angeles, California.

Coastal Cleanup Day is an annual community volunteering effort that reveals insights about the nature of ocean pollution. The 2018 Coastal Cleanup Day event in L.A. County brought together 13,464 individuals who removed over 29.8 tons of ocean-bound trash from 78 cleanup sites in 3 hours. These piles of trash tell a compelling story.

Gleaning early results reported anecdotally by Heal the Bay’s cleanup captains and volunteers, here are this year’s most common — and weirdest — hand-picked beach trash finds in L.A.:

Beach Trash Finds in Emoji:

  1. 🥤 Plastics:  Single-use drink & food containers, Polystyrene, Tiny plastic pieces
  2. 🚬 Smoking-Related:  Cigarette butts, Lighters, Cannabis packaging
  3. ♻️ Recyclables: Glass, Paper, Metal
  4. 💉 Medical and Hygiene:  Syringes, Condoms, Diapers
  5. 💩 Feces:  Humans, Pets, Unknown
  6. 💊 Drugs:  Pipes, Powders, Pills
  7. 🎣 Fishing Gear: Traps, Hooks, Nets
  8. 🚗 Automobile Parts:  Frames, Engines, Tires
  9. 📱 Lost & Found:  Wedding Rings, Watches, Phones
  10. 👟 Shoes:  Sandals, Sneakers, Wedges
  11. 🏄🏻 Broken Boards: Surfboards, Paddleboards, Boogie boards
  12. 💼 Suitcases: Wardrobe change, please!
  13. 🔋 e-Waste: Cords, Parts, Batteries
  14.  🗡️ Weapons: Bullets, Shivs, Knives
  15. 🛴 Electric Scooters: Underwater e-scooter hunt, anyone?

Looking at the above list, it seems we need to rapidly evolve our manner of thinking about product design and usability to combat rising ocean pollution. Here are some ways to start getting involved locally:

Coastal Cleanup Day is one of 735 cleanups Heal the Bay hosts a year. Check out our Marine Debris Database that houses information for 4 million pieces of trash collected by Heal the Bay volunteers in Los Angeles County. See the latest water quality updates for your favorite beach by installing our new Beach Report Card app for iOS or Android — and — visit the website at beachreportcard.org for the latest grades.


View L.A. County’s results from Coastal Cleanup Day 2018


View California’s results from Coastal Cleanup Day 2018


Take Part

Check out our next beach cleanup in L.A. County! Stay tuned for the full International Report for Coastal Cleanup Day to be released in the coming months. And sign up to receive a Registration Alert for Coastal Cleanup Day 2019.