Americans Overwhelmingly Support Ending Sale of Single-Use Plastic in National Parks
Oceana Releases New Poll, Calls on National Park Service to Stop Selling, Distributing Single-Use Plastic
Press Release Date: January 13, 2022
Location: Washington, DC
WASHINGTON — Today, Oceana released the results of a new poll revealing that 82% of American voters would support the National Park Service ending the sale and distribution of single-use plastic at national parks. The survey shows a great appreciation for our national parks, as well as bipartisan support among Americans for national parks to be free of single-use plastic items and plastic pollution.
“National parks have long held a special place in Americans’ hearts, and these polling results indicate that Americans, whether Republican or Democrat, want our parks to be unmarred by the pollution caused by single-use plastic,” said Christy Leavitt, Oceana’s plastics campaign director. “The National Park Service was created to preserve these natural and historic spaces, and in order to truly uphold that purpose, it needs to ban the sale and distribution of single-use plastic items, many of which will end up polluting our environment for centuries to come despite being used for only a moment.”
The National Park Service manages nearly 70 million pounds of waste annually. Last year, Oceana and 300-plus other organizations and businesses sent a letter calling on U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to direct the National Park Service to eliminate the sale and distribution of single-use plastic beverage bottles, plastic bags, disposable plastic foodware — including cups, plates, bowls, and utensils — and plastic foam products. Since then, Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ill.) and Rep. Mike Quigley (Ore.) introduced the Reducing Waste in National Parks Act (S. 2960 and H.R. 5533), which — if passed — would phase out the sale and distribution of single-use plastic in parks.
Oceana’s survey results indicate the American public supports the National Park Service making such a change. A ban on these items would also help implement President Biden’s sustainability executive order and advance the administration’s goals for addressing environmental justice and the climate crisis.
Key findings from the survey include:
- About 4 in 5 Americans have visited a national park.
- 83% of previous park-goers look forward to visiting national parks.
- 83% of American voters agree it is important that national parks remain free of plastic trash.
- 76% of American voters agree that single-use plastic items have no place in national parks.
- 82% of American voters would support a decision by the National Park Service to stop selling and distributing single-use plastic at national parks.
- Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly agree on keeping single-use plastic and plastic pollution out of national parks:
- 90% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans would support a decision by the National Park Service to stop selling and distributing single-use plastic in national parks.
- 78% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats agree it is important that national parks remain free of plastic trash.
- 82% of Democrats and 70% of Republicans agree that single-use plastic items have no place in national parks.
“One of the easiest ways to ensure visitors ‘leave no trace’ in our national parks is to stop providing them with additional plastic waste,” Leavitt said. “Eliminating the sale and distribution of single-use plastic items in national parks is a win-win: It protects the environment from the persistent damage of plastic pollution while appealing to the vast majority of Americans who want to see these treasured places treated with the respect they deserve.”
The national online poll, conducted by the nonpartisan polling company Ipsos, surveyed 1,005 American adults from across the U.S. between Nov. 5 and 9, 2021, and found broad bipartisan support for the elimination of the sale and distribution of single-use plastic in national parks.
There is not a place on Earth untouched by plastic. It has now been found everywhere, even in the most unexpected places: Arctic sea ice, the Mariana Trench, air in the remotest of mountains, rain in our national parks, and our food, including honey, salt, water, and beer. Scientists are still studying what all this means for human health.
In addition to choking marine life and entering our food, air, and water, plastic greatly contributes to climate change. In fact, plastic is set to outpace coal’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Plastic production also disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color by polluting their air, water, and soil. Recycling alone will not solve this problem — only 9% of the plastic waste ever created has been recycled, and companies continue to push new plastic products onto the market. With plastic production growing at a rapid rate, increasing amounts of plastic can be expected to flood our blue planet with devastating consequences.
To learn more about Oceana’s campaign to stop plastic pollution, please visit usa.oceana.org/plastics
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.USA.Oceana.org to learn more.