The Beacon

The Next Wave of Plastic Bag Bans

Sea turtles often confuse plastic bags with jellyfish, which makes them sick.©Flickr/Bag Monster

In a sweeping 5-0 vote, the Carmel-by-the-Sea City Council took action yesterday evening to ban single-use plastic bags in the quaint and beautiful coastal city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

Oceana, as part of the Central Coast Sanctuary Alliance of local businesses and conservation organizations, has been advocating to the Council for months to take action to rid this source of pollution in the area and today invite you to celebrate this victory with us. This rides on the heels of similar bans put in place by neighboring Monterey and dozens of other California cities and counties.

Several other cities around Monterey Bay are currently discussing banning single-use plastic bags as well. Oceana will continue the effort to eliminate these plastic bags across the Bay, ultimately moving toward the goal of a statewide ban.

California distributes 19 billion plastic bags per year, many which end up littering our beautiful rivers and beaches and causing undue harm to wildlife.

In addition to this pollution being unsightly, it also affects wildlife when animals inadvertently ingest or choke on plastic bags. Over 267 species of marine wildlife have been affected by plastic bag litter.

One species in particular is the endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle. The largest of all sea turtles, the leatherback swims an incredible 6,000 miles from its nesting beaches in Indonesia to California waters to feed on jellyfish. These prehistoric turtles easily mistake plastic bags swirling in the water for jellies and once ingested the turtles suffer dire consequences like malnutrition, starvation, intestinal blockage, suffocation, and drowning. A recent study found that over one third of all Pacific leatherbacks autopsied since the 1960s had plastic in their gastrointestinal tract.

To date, 20 cities and 6 counties in California have either have adopted or fully implemented plastic bag bans. Another 44 cities and 6 counties are in process of considering such bans.  Help us continue this wave of ocean-friendly action across the state by pledging to use less plastic.


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