100 million tons of plastic in our ocean

For decades, people have been dumping millions of tons of plastic and other trash into the Pacific. Today, there’s so much plastic swirling around that the ocean’s currents have formed a toxic soup of plastic trash in an area called the Pacific Garbage Patch.

Located 1,000 miles off the coast, the Pacific Garbage Patch has tripled in size since it was discovered in the 1980s — and it’s expected to double in the next 10 years. It’s creating an environmental disaster for ocean wildlife: Plastic and other marine debris kills millions of sea turtles, sea birds and marine mammals every year who mistake it for food.

Marine life in danger

All of this trash in the Pacific is creating an ecological disaster:

  • Turtles and seabirds frequently ingest floating plastic, mistaking it for food. They also get entangled in bags and often drown or die of suffocation.
  • 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.
  • Toxic pollutants leach from the plastic into the water. Scientists are now studying whether fish and other marine animals absorb these toxic pollutants. If so, there is a good chance that we also absorb them 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 becomes a little bit worse.

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

The first thing to do when your bathtub is overflowing is to turn the water off: It is time to turn the trash faucet off so we can start the clean up. 

Oregonians use more than 1 billion single-use plastic bags each year — and too many of them end up polluting our ocean. The solution is simple: ban the bags! Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our oceans for hundreds of years. 

Oregonians know this and are taking action to protect the Pacific. While the initial effort for statewide legislation was blocked by the powerful out-of-state plastic industry, we aren’t giving up. Individual cities around the state are taking action. In 2011, 8 cities formally supported a statewide ban, and four pledged to take action if the state did not.

Four cities leading the way, more to follow

 

The City of Portland led the way, becoming the first city in Oregon to adopt a ban. With our support, Corvallis, Eugene, and Ashland followed soon after. Our local victories are making an immediate impact. We're reducing the amount of plastic that pollutes our ocean and endangers wildlife. And we're paving the way for more bag bans, with community support growing in cities like Bend and Salem.

Local bans have an immediate impact and are a great start. But we won't stop until plastic bags are banned statewide.

We need you to get involved if we’re going to stop the flow of plastic pollution into the Pacific. 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 Salem, and inform government officials to make the right choices. If enough of us speak out, we can protect our ocean. Join our campaign by sending your legislators a message today.

Environment Oregon staff talks to the media outside Portland City Hall the day Portland votes to pass a better bag ban. 

Issue updates

News Release | Environment Oregon

Sen. Merkley introduces legislation to protect the Arctic from drilling

Today, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) introduced legislation to stop offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean. His efforts come in the wake of a series of setbacks for Shell Oil, including damage to its sea vessels en route to the Chukchi Sea, and a penalty from the Obama administration for failing to comply with wildlife protections.

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News Release | Environment Oregon

Ashland Becomes the Fourth Oregon City to Ban Plastic Bags

On Tuesday night, the Ashland City Council voted in favor of a ban on plastic bags. Plastic bag bans have seen growing public support in Oregon, with the cities of Portland, Corvallis, and Eugene adopting similar bag bans since 2011.

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News Release | Environment Oregon

City Council session packed with bag ban supporters

On Monday night, Ashland citizens and local businesses came together to call of the Ashland City Council to ban plastic bags. As City Councilors discussed the opportunity to ban plastic bags in Ashland, community members packed the room to capacity, so much so that extra chairs needed to be brought in from other meeting rooms. 

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News Release | Environment Oregon

Hundreds of citizens call on West Linn City Council to ban the bag

West Linn, OR – Today, West Linn citizens came together to call on West Linn City Council to ban plastic bags. The event, hosted by citizen-based environmental advocacy organization Environment Oregon, saw the announcement of hundreds of citizen petitions in support of a ban. This is part of their effort to keep plastic bags out of the Pacific Ocean and Oregon’s waterways by banning the bag. In the Halloween spirit, they were joined by the “Bag Monster,” the mascot of Environment Oregon’s Keep Plastic Out of the Pacific campaign. The Bag Monster consists of over 400 plastic bags—the average number a person uses in one year.

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News Release | Environment Oregon

Bend Could Lead Central Oregon in Reducing Plastic Pollution

Today, Bend citizens and local businesses came together to call on the Bend City Council to ban plastic bags. The event, hosted by citizen-based environmental advocacy organization Environment Oregon, is part of their effort to keep plastic bags out of the Pacific and Oregon waterways by banning the bag. So far, more than 49 businesses, including Patagonia, are signed on in support of a city bag ban, while more than 400 citizens have signed petitions. Other local supporters include the Juniper Group chapter of the Sierra Club and world famous climber and Bend resident, Ben Moon.

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