Plastic Pollution

Eliminating plastic pollution is a low-hanging fruit Zero Waste action

Reduce single-use plastics to clean up our waterways

There are so many pollutants that seem daunting or expensive to tackle. Addressing single-use plastics, on the other hand, is something that we can much more easily do – in our own lives and by passing laws at the local and state level.

Thin plastic carry-home bags and single-use plastic bottles, cups, bowls, straws, and takeout containers are all items that can easily be replaced by durable or compostable items. We can bring our own bags. We can ask for a ceramic plate. We can forego a straw or use a metal, glass or compostable straw. Many of us use metal water bottles and fill them at the many refill stations that are now available.

These items and other plastic packaging are lightweight and often end up blowing around onto our streets and into our creeks, rivers, lakes, Puget Sound and eventually the ocean.

Quantify plastics as a pollutant

Plastic is designed to be durable so plastic items don’t degrade. Instead, in our waterways, they break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Plastics are reported to last at least 500 years.

Macro- and micro-plastics (tiny fragments of plastics) in our waterways are being eaten by our fish and wildlife. This causes harm. Animals fill their stomachs with plastic pieces displacing nutritious food. The toxic chemicals in the plastic may be causing health problems. We don’t even know what happens when we eat fish that have eaten plastic.

Our traditional water pollutants are metals, nutrients, pesticides and organic chemicals. Recently, we are taking the first steps towards making plastic be considered a pollutant in Washington State.

Statewide Bag Bill

In the 2019 Washington State legislative session, Zero Waste Washington is working with partners to pass the most advanced plastic bag bill in the nation. Click here for bill status.