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

Corvallis Bids Farewell to Bag Monster

Today advocates and city councilors congratulated Corvallis on taking a stand against plastic pollution after Corvallis officially became the second city in Oregon to ban single-use plastic bags in an unanimous vote last night. “The City of Corvallis should be applauded for standing up to harmful waste that’s polluting our oceans and creating a disaster for wildlife,” said Sarah Higginbotham, State Director at Environment Oregon. “Corvallis is now leading the way for other Oregon cities looking to follow suit and ban the bag.”

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News Release | Environment Oregon

Corvallis Takes a Stand for Oceans with Bag Ban

Last night, Corvallis City Council took an important stand against ocean pollution, becoming the second city in Oregon to approve a comprehensive ban on plastic bags. While a second reading and final vote are still required to secure the ordinance, all city councilors are on record in support of the bill, which they voted 8 to 1 to enact at yesterday’s meeting.

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News Release | Environment Oregon

Over 55 Local Businesses Endorse Corvallis Bag Ban

At a press conference this morning hosted by Environment Oregon and the Mary’s Peak Sierra Club chapter, local businesses and environmentalists urged the Corvallis City Council to move quickly in reducing plastic pollution by banning single-use, checkout plastic bags. The announcement comes prior to the City Council’s public comment meeting at 5:30 PM tonight at the Corvallis Public Library.

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News Release | Environment Oregon

Over 80 Local Businesses and Mayor Piercy Endorse Eugene Bag Ban

Local businesses announced their support of a plastic bag ban this morning, including over 60 local independent businesses and 15 major grocery stores. Joined by Mayor Kitty Piercy and supporters, Environment Oregon announced broad businesses support for the proposed ban at a press conference at Hummingbird Wholesale in downtown Eugene.

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Headline

Eugene City Council Takes On Plastic Bag Ban

Eugene's city council could vote soon to ban the use of plastic bags. More than 60 local businesses support this ban on plastic. "Oregonians use on average about 500 plastic bags a year," said Environment Oregon Director Sarah Higginbotham. Activists say because Eugene is the second largest city in Oregon, banning the use of plastic carry-out bags could make a significant difference to the environment.

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