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

News Release | Environment Washington

New State Provision Addresses Lead in School Drinking Water

Environment Washington and WashPIRG hailed a new provision in the state’s budget that directs the Department of Health (DOH) to develop guidance for schools to take action whenever lead in water exceeds 1 part per billion.

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News Release | Environment Washington

Proposed Clean Water Rule Repeal Risks Drinking Water for More Than 2 Million Washingtonians

On June 27, 2017, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt proposed repealing the Clean Water Rule, which restored federal protections to half our nation’s streams and thousands of wetlands across the country. Bruce Speight, Environment Washington Director, issued the following statement:

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Report | Environment Washington

Coalition urges state leaders to address lead in school drinking water

Environment Washington and coalition of organizations is calling on state budget leaders to include a state budget provision that would direct the WA State Department of Health (DOH) to develop guidance and recommendations for schools to take action to reduce lead when test results exceed the maximum level recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and recommendations for communicating test results to parents and the community, including that there is no safe level of lead in water, as the science makes clear.

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News Release | Environment Washington

State Senate Narrowly Misses Chance to ‘Get the Lead Out’ of Schools, Preschools

The Washington State Senate narrowly missed an opportunity on Wed, March 8th, to protect Washington schoolchildren from lead in drinking water. Senators were considering a bill (SB 5745) that would have required water utilities to remove lead service lines (LSL) at schools and early childhood programs within three years and all lead service lines in the state by July 1st, 2030. The bill was not brought forward for a vote by Senate leadership before the March 8 policy cutoff.

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Report | Environment Washington Research and Policy Center

Get the Lead Out

Given the high toxicity of lead to children, the most health-protective policy is simply to “get the lead out” of our schools and pre-schools.  This involves pro-actively removing lead-bearing parts from schools’ drinking water systems – from service lines to faucets and fixtures – and installing certified filters at every tap used for drinking or cooking.  While all this prevention work cannot all happen at once, schools should immediately begin regular and proper testing of all water outlets used for drinking or cooking and promptly remove from service those outlets where lead is detecte

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