Aug 29 - Plastic Pollution Impacting Marine Wildlife, Economy

Two just-released studies cast a harsh light on the impacts of marine pollution to our economy and environment.

A study published in the journal Conservation Biology reveals that sea turtles are eating twice as much plastic today, including plastic bags and small pieces of plastic milk and drink containers, as they did 25 years ago. That’s especially true for young turtles that live in the ocean, rather than on the coastline, according to a story in

Results from this global analysis indicate oceanic leatherback turtles and green turtles are at the greatest risk of being killed or harmed from ingested marine debris. To reduce this risk, man-made debris must be managed at a global level, from the manufactures through to the consumers—before debris reaches the ocean.

In addition to the serious threat to marine wildlife, pollution is costing California taxpayers. According to a story in the LA Times, an NRDC report says California communities are spending about a half billion each year to prevent pollution from making its way into storm drains, streams and oceans.

Yet, urban runoff remains a serious problem for fish, birds, turtles and marine mammals that ingest it: clogged intestines, restricted movement, suffocation, loss of vital nutrients, starvation.

The study was released yesterday.

The report surveyed 95 California cities and towns and found that regardless of their size and distance from the ocean, they are paying a high price on street sweeping, storm drain maintenance and coastal cleanup efforts.

Whether the pollution takes the form of single-use plastic bags, polystyrene food containers or other single-use/disposable plastic, the cost is simply too high to continue unchecked. That’s why communities like San Jose are taking steps to reduce plastic pollution at the source.

Tuesday, San Jose became the largest city in the country to ban polystyrene food containers. The city already banned single-use plastic grocery bags in 2011, as did LA City this summer. By January, one-third of California’s population will live in communities covered by such ordinances.

With Californians using about 13 billion single-use plastic bags each year and the vast proliferation of plastic items such as polystyrene food containers and other disposable plastic items, it’s time to take action.

Find out which California cities have banned single-use plastic bags and polystyrene.

Learn more about the rising tide of marine debris.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
Let us keep you up to date by signing up for email alerts.