Portland Citizens Ask Council to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags

Posted by — July 29, 2009 6:43 pm

Bag Monster’s days in Portland, Oregon may be numbered…this just in:

Citizens Ask the City Council to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags

Portland, OR (July 29, 2009) – Members of the Portland Chapter of Surfrider Foundation and Leave No Plastic Behind today requested the Portland City Council to pass a ban on single-use plastic bags in Portland.

Both organizations are members of Portland’s ‘Ban the Bag’ coalition which is seeking to reduce consumption of single use plastic bags in Portland to prevent waste, encourage use of reusable bags, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

During testimony to the City Council, the Surfrider Foundation presented a letter signed by 43 local businesses, environmental groups, and neighborhood associations in support of such a policy.

Surfrider Foundation and Leave No Plastic Behind also presented the City Council with over 2,700 petition signatures in support of a plastic bag ban or fee, collected by volunteers throughout the city.

“Banning single-use plastic bags is an important step toward sustainability for the City of Portland”, said Pete Stauffer of the Surfrider Foundation. “Using a product that lasts hundreds of thousands of years for a single use makes no sense; especially when reusable bags can provide the same function and save both consumers and businesses money.”

Portland Mayor Sam Adams was among those who expressed support. “I applaud what Surfrider is doing nationwide to bring attention to this issue. Single-use bags represent an important opportunity to rethink our consumption patterns. People look to Portland as a leader in sustainability, and I think it’s time to take the helm and reduce unnecessary waste in disposables and excessive packaging.”

The consumption of single-use plastic bags has a major impact on the environment. Around 100 billion petroleum-based plastic checkout bags are used each year in the United States, requiring an estimated 12 million barrels of oil each year. Sadly, less than 5% of these bags are recycled each year and cities, counties, and non-profit organizations must pay million of dollars each year to clean up the litter.

Further, it is estimated that 60-80% of all debris in the ocean is plastic. Plastics take hundreds of years to break down at sea, and most types never truly biodegrade. As a result, marine animals often get entangled in the debris or mistake it for food.

For the past two years, the Surfrider Foundation and Leave No Plastic Behind have been working to raise community awareness about the impacts of plastics on the environment and encouraging people to switch to reusable bags.

Their volunteer driven efforts have included sponsoring outreach events, beach cleanups, art shows, school assemblies, water festivals, neighborhood association presentations, and distributing over 3,000 free reusable bags in Oregon through school programs and community outreach.

In addition, both Surfrider Foundation and Leave No Plastic Behind are participating in the Mayor’s Reusable Bag Outreach, Education, and Distribution Task Force, which includes members of local nonprofits, government, businesses, and community partners. The campaign is working to reduce single use bag waste through a broad public outreach and education campaign with the mass distribution of a durable, usable grocery tote bag.

Surfrider Foundation is also participating in the West Coast Governors’ Agreement on Ocean Health through implementing priorities of the Marine Debris Action Team. These regional efforts help build consistency between Surfrider’s local outreach and advocacy efforts and the shared ocean policy agenda of the Governors of Washington, Oregon and California.

About Surfrider Foundation: The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. Now in its 25th year, the Surfrider Foundationhas grown from a small group of dedicated surfers in Malibu, California to a global movement made up of over 50,000 members and 90 chapters worldwide. For more information visit www.surfrider.org

About Leave No Plastic Behind: Leave No Plastic Behind presents art exhibits and creative events year round to raise awareness about the damaging effects of single use plastic and offers alternative suggestions on how to reduce and reuse. It is a project of the non-profit organization Create Plenty. For more information visit http://lnpb.org/

Learn more about the Portland chapter of Surfrider Foundation here.
Live in Portland? Sign the petition here.

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