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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Plastic Pollution

“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.

Take the pledge to stop sucking at LAsucks.org.



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.

 



As summer winds down, our science and policy team has stayed busy tracking water- and ocean-friendly bills as they pass through the California legislature. Staff scientist Mary Luna provides a recap:

Plastic Straws

AB 1884 (introduced by Assemblymembers Calderon and Bloom) would prohibit a food facility from providing a single-use plastic straw to a consumer, unless the consumer requests it. This would be a great step for the state and builds upon the local work of many cities in banning plastic straws (Malibu, Santa Monica, and others) as well as Heal the Bay’s 2017 “Strawless Summer” campaign. Awaiting signature.

Smoking at Beach

SB 836 (introduced by Sen. Glazer) would ban smoking on state coastal beaches. Since 1999, Heal the Bay volunteers have collected more than 450,000 cigarette butts at L.A. County beaches. SB 836 would reduce some of these butts from reaching the ocean and harming wildlife. Awaiting signature.

Food Packaging

SB 1335 (introduced by Sen. Allen) would require state facilities to use only food-service packaging that is reusable, recyclable, or compostable. Awaiting signature.

The three bills above  are “enrolled,” which means that they have passed both legislative houses and are on Gov. Brown’s desk, who has until the end of the month to sign or veto them. You can help by contacting Brown’s office and letting him know by email or phone that you support these bills.

Illegal Fishing

AB 2369 (Introduced by Assembly Member Gonzalez Fletcher) is another bill important to Heal the Bay, given that it further protects the State’s coastal and marine resources . It would increase fines on people who repeatedly fish illegally in Marine Protected Areas. Gov. Brown signed this bill in August.

 Climate Change

Heal the Bay is also committed to helping identify and implement solutions to climate change and ocean acidification. We are pleased to see Sacramento take the lead in fighting climate change in our state.

Gov. Brown has signed three bills that address climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. SB 100 (introduced by Sen. De León) requires that the state run on 100% renewable energy by 2045. AB 1775 (introduced by Assemblymember Muratsuchi) and SB 834 (introduced by Sen.  Jackson) will prevent future offshore oil and gas drilling in state waters. These bills will decrease our reliance on fossil fuels, and facilitate the transition to renewable sources of energy.

With the 2018 legislative session coming to an end, we see positive progress to reduce harmful environmental impacts in our communities, watersheds, and ocean. Let your elected leaders know that these issues are important to you!



Este 15 de septiembre es el evento de voluntariado más grande del mundo!!! Es el Día de Limpieza Costera 2018. ¡Te invitamos a acompañarnos para que juntos hagamos historia!

Este evento anual ha sido reconocido por el Libro Guinness de los Records como “La mayor recolección de basura” y es coordinado por Heal the Bay y la Comisión Costera de California (California Coastal Commission) en el Condado de Los Ángeles. Una muestra del interés que los residentes y visitantes de LA tienen por el cuidado y protección de sus recursos acuáticos fue la masiva participación en el evento del año pasado. 10,200 voluntarios recogieron 11,5 toneladas de basura en 61 sitios diferentes!!!

Este año, Heal the Bay proyecta tener nuevamente más de 10,000 voluntarios en 70 sitios del Condado de Los Ángeles, incluyendo zonas costeras e internas, el río de Los Angeles y algunos puntos submarinos estratégicos.

¿Cómo participar?

Para ser voluntario en este grandioso evento es necesario registrarse en www.healthebay.org/ccd, reservar la mañana del 15 de septiembre de 9 a 12:00 pm, y si es posible, llevar guantes, balde y bolsas reusables.

No hay límite de edad para participar en el evento y no es necesario ningún tipo de entrenamiento o experiencia previa. ¡Solo el deseo de ayudar a limpiar!!!

¿Dónde?

Los sitios establecidos son los siguientes:

  • Zonas internas: Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Ballona Creek Bike Path, L.A. River, Lake Balboa, Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, Madea Creek, Avalon Gardens, Arroyo Seco, Compton Creek, Elysian Valley Gateway Park, Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park, Koreatown, Pacoima y Hyde Park Boulevard.
  • Zonas costeras: Hermosa Beach, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Marina del Rey, Pacific Palisades, península Palos Verdes, Playa del Rey, Redondo Beach, San Pedro, Santa Mónica, Torrance, Topanga y Venice.
  • Zonas de restauración de hábitat: LAX Dunes y the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve, Alta Vicente Reserve; Medea Creek, y  Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve.
  • Puntos submarinos: Malibu Pier, Leo Carrillo State Beach, Redondo County Beach, Dockweiler State Beach, y Santa Mónica Pier.

La población latina en Los Angeles es muy significativa y juega un papel fundamental en la recuperación y conservación del medio ambiente de la región. Consientes de esto, instituciones como Anahuak, Pacoima Beautiful y Bell Gardens High School vienen apoyando activamente las actividades de la organización. Asimismo, se han establecido varios lugares de recolección como en Koreatown y a través de la ciudad en zonas donde la población hispana es numerosa.

¡Esta es una gran oportunidad para hacer algo concreto para nuestra familia, nuestra comunidad, nuestra ciudad y nuestro entorno!!!

Latinos en otros países

Este evento tiene lugar alrededor del mundo y por supuesto los latinos estarán presentes en otros países para trabajar juntos en la reducción de la contaminación de los recursos acuáticos. Países como México, Guatemala, Costa Rica, República Dominicana, Panamá, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Perú y España estarán participando en esta jornada global para remover toneladas de plástico, entre otros.

¡Pequeños cambios pueden hacer una gran diferencia!



Santa Monica often sets the stage for the rest of Southern California when it comes to curbing consumer practices that trash our oceans and neighborhoods.

In 2007, the Santa Monica City Council passed its first ordinance regulating the use of polystyrene, the type of foam typically used in fast-food and drink packaging that has become such an eyesore on our local beaches and neighborhoods.

Today, 110 municipalities in California have passed some type of legislation on the use of polystyrene.  Progressive cities like San Francisco, Malibu and Manhattan Beach have comprehensive bans that include retail sales, coolers and ice chests.

polystyrene ban

Last night, the City Council approved modifications to the City’s earlier ordinance on polystyrene, extending protections that will reduce blight and save marine life.

The new rules extend the existing polystyrene ban to include Food Service Ware (plates, bowls, utensils, cups, straws, and more) and prohibiting bio-plastic #7 and plastics #1-5. They also encourage alternatives such as paper, fiber, bagasse and wood for takeaway packaging.  They also require that takeaway straws and utensils only be made available to customers on a request-only basis, and that they be “marine degradable.”  There are exceptions for people with medical conditions for the use of straws.

These modifications are crucial if we are to systematically reduce plastic pollution in our communities and oceans.  In the last 18 years, Heal the Bay volunteers have removed over 736,000 pieces of plastic foam trash from L.A. beaches.  The harmful flow of single-use plastic foam is a constant threat to marine animals, wildlife and habitats.

And this pollution problem is only growing.  Of the more than 375,000 tons of polystyrene (plastic foam) produced in California each year, not even 1% gets recycled.  The rest ends up in our landfills, waterways and the ocean.

The new rules will help the city achieve its Zero Waste goals by 2030 — through diversion, composting, and recycling.

Nearly 30 people, ranging in age from 3 to 70 years old, spoke in support of the changes. Our policy leaders Katherine Pease and Mary Luna led the Heal the Bay contingent.  Councilmembers seemed enthusiastic during public testimony and wanted to learn more about how the City staff could work with businesses to facilitate transitioning polystyrene out of use.

Beginning January 1, 2019, vendors are not allowed to provide containers made out of polystyrene #6, or from other plastics #1-5; all containers need to be made out of materials like paper, wood, and fiber that meet the definition of marine degradable.

After that date, any business in Santa Monica serving food or drinks in containers labeled #1-6 would not be in compliance with this polystyrene ordinance, and the public may choose to educate them about the ordinance, or to file a report with the City’s Code Enforcement division to ensure compliance.

The definition of marine degradable is included in the ordinance language, specifying that products must degrade completely in marine waters or marine sediments in fewer than 120 days. Products predominantly made with plastics, either petroleum or biologically based, are not considered marine degradable.

Heal the Bay staff and our partners asked the Council to strengthen the ordinance by adding polystyrene items to the prohibited list, such as retail sales (e.g. packing materials, foam coolers) and grocery items (e.g. food trays, egg cartons).  The Council did add beverage lids to the list of items that need to be marine degradable.

The Council expressed interest in including retail sales and grocery items, but ultimately said the new ordinance isn’t the place for action.  Members instead directed staff to look at prohibition of polystyrene retail sales and come back with recommendations.  They also directed staff to look into possible charges for take-away containers (like the 10-cent charge for single-use plastic bags), and incentives for businesses to move more quickly to sustainable packaging.

The Santa Monica City Council showed great leadership last night by adopting the ordinance and continuing the conversation about how to strengthen it further.  We commend the efforts of city staff and councilmembers and look forward to working with the public to implement and build upon this important action.



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 would like to thank all of our partners and community advocates 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 an estimated 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 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 straws-upon-request movement and launched the Strawless Summer campaign to raise awareness and reduce unneccessary plastic straw usage 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 some 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. If folks needed a plastic straw, they could have access to one. But for folks who didn’t need or want them, the single-use plastic straw was absent from the table.

“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 single-use plastic pollution, including advancing safe alternatives to single-use 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 to increase.

Learn more about the benefits of skipping the straw 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).

Our Strawless Summer 2017 campaign would not be possible without these local 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/