Time for Oregon to Ban the Bag

July 5, 2010

by Nicole Forbes

From 500 miles off the Oregon Coast to Japan, the Pacific Ocean is a toxic soup of plastic. The amount of plastic in our oceans has tripled since the 1980s, and it is now six to 40 times more prevalent than plankton, the fundamental food source of our ocean. It’s time to ban plastic bags.

More than a million seabirds, 100,000 sea turtles and marine mammals, and countless fish die every year as a result of all this plastic. Twelve percent of marine debris found on our beaches is plastic bags. That’s why Environment Oregon is working across the state to ban the bag.

Local Bag Ban Ordinances Are Crucial

From the experience in other states, local bag bans are critical to getting statewide action. In California, several cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles imposed bans or fees on plastic bags. As a result, the California grocery stores asked for a statewide ban. Just three weeks ago, the California Assembly passed what may become America’s first statewide ban.

So while Environment Oregon is working feverishly for a statewide ban, we know a critical tool will be a series of local bag bans across the state. That’s why we’re working in eight local regions to ban the bag.

The fact is, local governments can’t afford to not ban the bag. Plastic bags get stuck in sewers and irrigation canals, causing overflows and costing millions of dollars in maintenance and repairs. And plastic bags gum up recyclers’ sorting machines, costing private and public facilities thousands of dollars every month.

Tell your representative that we can’t afford the bag! Φ

Nicole Forbes is a Field Organizer working on Ban the Bag legislation for Environment Oregon.

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