Keep Plastic Out of Puget Sound

Two billion bags used each year

Plastic pollution poses a serious threat to whales, seals, turtles, salmon and all of Puget Sound’s wildlife. Too much of the trash comes from single-use plastic bags, which can choke, suffocate or kill thousands of whales, birds and other marine wildlife each year. We saw the effects of this last year when a beached gray whale was found in West Seattle with 20 plastic bags in its stomach. Nothing we use for a few minutes should end up in the belly of a whale. 

Yet 2 billion plastic bags are distributed annually throughout Washington state, and nationwide, less than 5 percent of plastic bags are recycled.

Marine life in danger

Too many of plastic bags end up as litter in Puget Sound, and its creating an ecological disaster:

• Whales and seabirds can ingest floating plastic, mistaking it for food. They also get entangled in bags and can drown or die of suffocation. A beached grey whale was found in West Seattle in 2010 with 20 plastic bags in its stomach.

Adult seabirds inadvertently feed small bits of plastic to their chicks—often causing them to starve to death after their stomachs become filled with plastic.

• Small pieces of plastic can absorb toxic pollutants like DDT and PCB. Scientists have found that fish are ingesting these toxins when they ingest plastic, concentrating the chemicals in the food chain. There is a good chance that we also absorb these pollutants when we eat fish.

What’s really scary is that scientists tell us this plastic may never biodegrade. And every day we go without tackling this problem, it gets worse.

With your help, we can stop the flow of trash and begin the cleanup

The good news is, Washingtonians are taking action to protect the Sound. In 2009, Edmonds became the first city in the state to ban plastic bags. In 2011, six other cities joined the effort. Bellingham, Mukilteo, Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Port Townsend, and Issaquah all banned the bag, significantly cutting down on the amount of plastic flowing into Puget Sound. Today, dozens more communities are considering similar legislation, including Olympia. Local bans have an immediate impact and are a great start—but we can’t stop until bags are banned statewide. 

We need you to get involved if we’re going to stop the flow of plastic pollution into the Sound. Your support will make it possible for our staff to do research, make our case to the media, reach out to critical constituencies, testify in Olympia, and educate government officials so that they can make the right choices. If enough of us speak out, we can cut the flow of plastic into Puget Sound by banning disposable plastic bags.

Clean water updates

Report | Environment Washington Research & Policy Center

Troubled Waters 2018

Over a 21-month period from January 2016 to September 2017, major industrial facilities released pollution that exceeded the levels allowed under their Clean Water Act permits more than 8,100 times. Often, these polluters faced no fines or penalties.

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News Release | Environment America

Health, Business, and Community Voices Urge EPA to Keep Clean Water Rule

Today more than 600 leaders from 43 states – including doctors and nurses, business owners, state and local officials, and watershed activists - urged U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to maintain the Clean Water Rule.  Environment America Research & Policy Center submitted their comments in response to EPA’s proposal to dismantle the Rule, which restored federal protections to drinking water sources for 117 million Americans.

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Report | Environment Washington Research and Policy Center

Rough Waters Ahead Factsheet

Millions of Americans live in the Puget Sound watershed, and millions more come each year to fish, boat and enjoy its water and wildlife. But intense human activity has polluted the Sound. The Environmental Protection Agency has been vital to protecting Puget Sound, holding polluters accountable and working with state, local and tribal governments to clean up and restore the Sound. That work is in jeopardy because the Trump administration has proposed cutting the EPA’s budget by 31 percent.

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News Release | Environment Washington Research and Policy Center

Budget Cuts Would Increase Puget Sound Pollution

Proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean water programs would halt progress on curbing the flow of polluted runoff into Puget Sound, according to a new report by Environment Washington Research and Policy Center (Environment Washington RPC). With a deadline for Congress to approve a federal budget fast approaching, Northern Fish Seafood Company President Ross Swanes, Pierce Conservation District Executive Director Ryan Mello, and Washington Environmental Council Puget Sound Program Director Mindy Roberts joined Environment Washington RPC in calling for full funding of EPA to protect Puget Sound and other Washington waterways.

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News Release | Environment Washington Research and Policy Center

New “Back to School” Item for Parents: Toolkit to Get the Lead Out of Schools’ Drinking Water

With “back to school” in full swing this week, Environment Washington Research and Policy Center today offered a new toolkit to help parents, teachers, and administrators Get the Lead Out of schools’ drinking water. Citing a lack of accurate information on lead contamination in water and how schools should prevent it, Environment Washington encouraged parents and teachers to put the new toolkit on their “back to school” reading list. 

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