An animated video about our ocean plastic problems from ELC volunteer Nayla Basma.

With an estimated 8 million tons of plastic entering the ocean every year, plastic pollution has emerged as a top threat to ocean health. Of the leakage that comes from land-based sources, 75% comes from uncollected wastes and 25% escape from within the waste management system itself.

So what can we do? We can:

●      Reduce our use

●      Increase collection

●      Create aftermarkets and incentives; and

●      Implement Earth-based policy solutions

Have you read ELC’s blog yet on ocean plastic pollution? If not click here.

In 2013, Earth Law Center along with others, helped to draft Santa Monica’s Sustainability Rights ordinance. This ordinance was proactive and aspirational, rather than banning one product or industry, it looked towards the future the community wanted. Such an ordinance supports the creation of new laws that promote reuse, collection and aftermarkets.

Smoking is illegal almost everywhere in the city, helping to keep cigarette filters out of the ocean (cigarettes are one of the top items found on beach cleanups).  Also, a city ordinance prohibits the use of non-marine degradable disposable food service containers. This same law makes disposable utensils and straws available only on request, and they must also be marine degradable (except for disabled customers who can receive plastic straws if necessary).  And, the city has installed and operated various storm water cleaning devices to keep pollutants, including plastic, from entering the ocean from the storm drains. [insights from ELC partner Marsha Moutrie]

Earth Law Center is working with partners locally and internationally to implement Earth Law; we are not only learning from experiences in Santa Monica’s sustainability rights ordinance but taking those experiences to create a space where plastic pollution can be addressed. Stay tuned as we develop a toolkit for your community to reduce the source of plastic pollution and conserve the ocean.

For more information, contact Ocean Rights Manager Michelle Bender at

Image Credit: NOAA

Image Credit: NOAA