UNLESS…Earth-Friendly Friday: Plastic trash problems in California

This post is in support of the brand new weekly WordPress event inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax

” UNLESS . . . someone like you

cares a whole awful lot,

nothing is going to get better.

It’s not.”


Created by blogger Just Another Nature Enthusiast, this is my submission for the first topic: Plastic – an excellent choice for the first challenge!


There is a huge problem of plastic trash — especially single use plastic bags — in California, where I live.

  1. California FlagCalifornia is the most populous state in the U.S….and its citizens use a whole lot of single-use plastic bags — about 14 billion bags yearly.
  2. Most plastic bags are NOT recycled, and many bags end up marring the landscape, and worse, finding its way to beaches, and then in the ocean.
  3. Because the California coast covers 840 miles (1,350 km), and 15 of California’s 58 counties directly face the Pacific Ocean, the chances of sea creatures ingesting plastics by accident — like migrating Pacific leatherback turtles that mistake plastic for jellyfish and other food — makes this problem beyond just blight on our beautiful landscape.
The beautiful California coast

The Big Sur Coast, Central Calfornia


I’m happy to report that on September 30, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown  signed into law SB 270 —  the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bag, effective this summer!

The bad news is that immediately after the law was signed, a plastics manufacturing trade group called “American Progressive Bag Alliance” went to work and gathered enough signatures for a referendum in the November 2016 ballot.

The trade group gathered over 800,000 signatures, well over the 505,000 valid signatures needed for a referendum (and by the way…I’d like to understand why people signed…How can you be against a law that cut down on trash and protects our sea creatures?)

So…if the signatures meet the requirements, then the ban is suspended until Californians can vote on the matter.

I posted this chart in my September article about the bag ban, and I think it is worth including for this challenge if you have not seen it:



So…despite what the plastics manufacturers are doing to overturn the plastic bag ban, I do think the tide is turning about plastic bag use, and it is just a matter of time until there is a ban on single-use plastic bags for all the states in the U.S.

First though, it starts with each one of us, doing what we can to educate ourselves on the problem, and then taking action, even if it means WE pick up plastic litter when we can, as we are out and about with everyday routines.

For ideas on how to help clean beaches and keep plastic trash out of the ocean without having to take part in “official” beach clean-up days… please see my post One woman’s beach clean up or click on the photo below.

Beach Heroine

Find out about everyday heroes for PLANET EARTH and its inhabitants…like this woman…

After all, it just takes one person because…”UNLESS . . . someone like you cares a whole awful lot,nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

To participate in this timely WordPress challenge topic and to see other submissions for the theme click here (http://justanothernatureenthusiast.org/2015/02/06/unless-plastic/)

This is a terrific WordPress weekly challenge, and I congratulate Jane from Just Another Nature Enthusiast for creating a place to share ideas about conservation.

I believe that a lot of people do care!  What about you?

8 thoughts on “UNLESS…Earth-Friendly Friday: Plastic trash problems in California

  1. Lola Jane! This is an outstanding post – the chart you shared caught my attention immediately. Steps 1,2,3,4 are precisely what occurred in the problem I addressed in my response to this week’s challenge. We are experiencing heavy rains this weekend that are pushing high volumes of fast-flowing water through the wetland system where we live. Any plastics that were in the wetland or that are pushed through the storm drain network definitely have the potential to finding their way to the Pacific coast of Oregon.

    We do not have a state-wide ban on plastic bags yet. Which is astonishing because years ago, Oregon was the first to enact a bottle bill.

    Perhaps this could be an idea for a future topic: how can citizens inspire the ideas to legislatures to get more eco-friendly laws in place…


  2. Pingback: UNLESS… Earth-friendly Friday: Plastic | Just Another Nature Enthusiast

  3. We are due for rains this evening and over the weekend as well.

    The problem of these bags getting into the storm drain network is one that most don’t relate to…but as you pointed out, one of the ways the bags end up in our oceans.

    Glad to post that chart — I’m seeing a lot more of these info graphic charts related to conservation, and it is great to share on blogs. This one came from http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our-work/international-coastal-cleanup/trash-travels.html.

    Thanks again for taking the initiative for this weekly event, which I already know is one I will gladly participate in and anticipate…

  4. We don’t have a statewide ban here in Washington but plenty of cities have voted to ban the use of plastic bags. Seattle has taken it a step farther by prohibiting plastic and charging for paper bags in every retail store to encourage everyone to bring reusable bags with them.

    • Thank you for your comment. It is great to hear about the steps taken in Seattle.

      The thing with these city-by-city or municipality plastic bag bans is that it is a lot of work for so many —- which is why it was terrific to FINALLY get a statewide law in place in California.

      Unfortunately, efforts by the plastics manufacturers to overturn the law may delay the effective date…we will see what happens this November.

      I do think if it comes to a vote (wasting a lot of resources in the process!) the people of California will do the right thing.

  5. I’ve always been aware of this problem, but only this past year have I really started to take on responsibility for it. Instead of using plastic bags from stores, I bring my own reusable bags. And the plastic bags that I do use are put in the recycling. For some reason I never knew plastic bags were recyclable until last September. But it makes sense!

    • Kelly, I’m so happy to hear you are now using your reusable bags! I hope you influence others in your circle (family, friends, your classmates) to do the same.

      I still have a couple of family members to convince, but when there is a ban on the bags, it forces us to readjust our habits and just to remember to keep the darn bags in our cars or with us…. The ones that fold up and easily fit in book bags, purses or pockets are terrific.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, and please do consider taking part in this new weekly challenge if a topic interests you.

      It doesn’t have to be a LONG post like mine (it’s just that I’ve been thinking and learning about plastics for a while now and have a lot of information to share),

      It can just be a short post to spread the word on what we can do to take care of planet Earth 🙂

Now that you are here, I would love to know what you think...comments are always appreciated.