Act Now to Defend Tahoe from Plastic Pollution

Plastics are a growing threat to human and environmental health – and Lake Tahoe is no exception. We need your help to pass important California legislation to stop plastic pollution.
Plastic pollutionContact your State Senator and Assembly Member and urge them to VOTE YES on AB1080/SB54, the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. Find your representatives here.

This summer, microplastics were detected in the waters of Lake Tahoe – one of our country’s most regulated and protected lakes – for the first time ever! And throughout the Tahoe Basin, plastics are consistently the most-gathered type of litter during volunteer cleanups.

If plastics are here in Tahoe, that means they are everywhere, even impacting our food and water supplies, not to mention our wildlife and wild places.

But there’s a solution to plastic pollution.

The California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act addresses the biggest source of plastic pollution, single-use plastics, by setting goals to eliminate non-reusable, non-recyclable and non-compostable products across the state (think food wrappers and product packaging). It is the most effective and least expensive way to protect Lake Tahoe and other iconic places across California from the disastrous effects of plastic pollution. The legislation, AB1080/SB54, will come up for a vote in January.

Please reach out to your State Senator and Assembly Member and urge them to VOTE YES. Click here to look up your elected representatives. Call, email, write or contact them through social media.

Together, we can protect Lake Tahoe from plastic pollution. Thank you for helping to Keep Tahoe Blue!


Q. What is the problem with plastic?
A. Humans have produced more than 8 billion tons of plastic, mostly since the 1950s. Less than 10 percent of it has been recycled (United Nations Environment Programme). Because it doesn’t biodegrade, much of it has broken down into tiny pieces called microplastics that end up everywhere, including our food, water and places like Lake Tahoe, carrying with it harmful toxins and impacting wildlife.

Q. What does it cost to address plastic pollution?
A. In California, we spend nearly $500 million annually on litter prevention and removal (Natural Resources Defense Council).

Q. What are microplastics, and why are they bad for the Lake?
A. Microplastics were once plastic bags, bottles, packaging and other products. Plastics don’t biodegrade, like a paper bag or banana peel. Instead, sunlight breaks them down into tiny fragments that persist in the environment. And because they’re so small they spread everywhere, being carried by water and even wind, and can be consumed by the tiniest of organisms, impacting the food web from the ground up.

Q. How were microplastics found in Lake Tahoe?
A. Scientists at the Desert Research Institute in Reno analyzed water samples collected from various locations across the Lake with help from the League to Save Lake Tahoe’s citizen science volunteers. Their results showed that microplastics aren’t just a coastal issue. If they’re present in Lake Tahoe – one of the most tightly regulated and protected places in the country – they’re everywhere. Read more.

Q. How does the legislation, AB1080/SB54, protect Lake Tahoe and the environment?
A. By stopping the biggest source of the problem – single-use plastics – at the source. The legislation requires that all single-use plastic packaging and products sold or distributed in California be reduced by 75 percent by 2030, and that all single-use packaging and products be recyclable or compostable on and after 2030. Importantly, it requires that there must be systems in place to actually recycle plastic products. It’s not enough for an item to be able to be recycled or composted, it has to actually happen.

Q. How can I help make sure this legislation is passed?
A. Contact your State Senator and Assembly Member and tell them to vote YES on AB1080/SB54. Click here to look up your elected representatives. Call, email, write or contact them through social media. It won’t take more than a few minutes, but it will help protect Lake Tahoe from plastic pollution.

Photo Credit: Samuel A. Love, via Flickr Creative Commons

Stay current on all things Lake Tahoe