Heal the Ocean focuses on wastewater infrastructure – sewers and septic systems – as well as ocean dumping practices that have contributed to ocean pollution. We are focused on Santa Barbara County, but our methods are now serving as a model for other coastal communities across the country. 

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Heal the Ocean (HTO) was formed in August 1998 in Santa Barbara, California, in response to the closing of local beaches due to bacteria. Its original organizers are Hillary Hauser, a journalist who has covered marine topics – both internationally and in Santa Barbara – for over 40 years, and Jeff Young, a practicing attorney in Santa Barbara who once owned an oyster farm that was polluted out of business in the late 1980s. It is a citizens’ action group that began with Hauser’s newspaper editorial, published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on August 9, 1998, called “Another Day at the Beach?” The piece prompted a huge outpouring of emotional support and calls for action within the community. In response, a public demonstration took place at the Santa Barbara County administration building on August 27, 1998 in support of clean waters and clean beaches, with this community outcry giving rise to Heal the Ocean.

In our early years HTO tackled the septic systems at Rincon, a world class surfing area in Santa Barbara County. We were the first environmental organization in the county to do DNA testing in the environment in order to identify the origins of contamination. While bureaucrats and the public alike argued about the sources of pollution at Rincon, HTO raised $36,000 for this DNA study, and the results were conclusive…the pollution in the Rincon Lagoon was attributable to humans.

After countless hours of advocacy and support by Heal the Ocean at key stages of the project over fifteen years, the South Coast Beaches Communities Septic to Sewer Project is complete, meaning that seven miles of Santa Barbara coastline are now free of septic systems. 

Heal the Ocean and Letter Perfect’s Gallery Opening


Just in time for Christmas!

Letter Perfect, the well-loved store on Coast Village Road, Montecito, is having a grand art opening at the former Just Folk store in Summerland!



In a Benefit for Heal the Ocean

Friday, December 7, 2018

2346 Lillie Avenue

5 p.m. - 7 p.m

Wine & hors d’eouvres


Festivities with the Oak Group Show, curated by artist Michael Drury, will continue in the Letter Perfect Gallery through January 2, 2019, but benefits Heal the Ocean until December 9th, 2018. This is your opportunity to celebrate the holidays with Heal the Ocean in this exciting new venture by Letter Perfect in an exciting new venue in Summerland! View the paintings (what a gift for that Special Someone in your Life!), and see the wonderful gift items Letter Perfect is known for!

If you would like more information please call or email Alison at (805)965-7570 or alison@healtheocean.org.

Toad&Co’s Save the Planet, Wear Sustainable Santa Barbara Tour Stop

Who: Toad&Co, Topa Topa Brewing Co, and HTO

What: A Toad&Co “Save the Planet” fundraiser BENEFITING Heal the Ocean!

When: Wednesday, December 12, 2018 from 5:30 pm — 9:30 pm

Where: Topa Topa Brewing Co. (120 Santa Barbara St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101)

Why: Live music, great beer, awesome brands and goodies, plus helping Heal the Ocean!

Promoted Social image for 12-12.jpg

Read below for more details or check out the Facebook event page.

The global apparel industry was named the #4 biggest global polluter and accounts for 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, almost as much as the total carbon impact of the EU. It's a grim reality, but there are lots of way to tackle the problem. You can go nude, or wear sustainable. 

Local clothing store, Toad&Co. is traversing the country to celebrate how our communies are saving the planet - and they're coming to our hometown of Santa Barbara, CA! Join us (and other local companies) at Topa Topa Brewing Co. on Wednesday, December 12, 2018 from 5:30 pm — 9:30 pm for beer, music from Uncle Uncle, and a Toad&Co. gear giveaway - and to learn how you can help save the planet.

The sustainable marketplace (a great stop for Holiday shopping) includes companies like:
All Good Brand
The Refill Shoppe
Sun & Swell Foods
1% for the Planet

A portion of sales that evening will be donated to us, Heal the Ocean - so you can drink, shop, and do good!

If you would like more information please call or email Alison at (805)965-7570 or alison@healtheocean.org.

Past HTO Events

Current Job Openings

There are no job openings/internships currently available. Please check back soon for new openings!