Bag ban in Seattle


On July 1 of this year, the city of Seattle officially banned plastic bags.  In lieu of plastic bags, stores will be charging five cents per paper bag and will be encouraging customers to use reusable bags.

According to the Seattle Public Utilities, the city of Seattle uses 292 million plastic bags a year and only 13 percent of them are recycled. The city of Seattle is well aware that banning plastic bags alone will not be the end point of the pollution in Puget Sound. However, with misused plastic bags finding their way into the natural habitats of wildlife, animals are mistaking them for food and/or choking on these non-digestible items.

A petition that would repeal Seattle’s bag ban has already started but will need more than 16,000 signatures by January 17 in order to qualify for the August ballot. While it may seem far stretched to reach this goal, voters have been successful in repealing a 20-cent fee for plastic bags in 2008. However, I don’t think they will be successful because this time, there are cheaper alternative options and plastic bags will be gone all together.

I find it ridiculous people are trying to revoke this ban. People have called this ban the start to communism, a misinformed idea and just another tax on the citizens. In response to these claims, I find this bag ban an excellent way for people to be more responsible for their actions. Instead of getting plastic bags and throwing them away, people will now be conscious enough to think of substitutions to be greener instead of having to pay a fee for paper bags.

Those against this bag ban claim paper bags are actually worse for the environment than plastic, causing harm to the environment by using up trees and taking up excess space. What many people do not realize is that petroleum is what a plastic bag is made of, so not only are plastic bags depleting our natural resources, but also they are polluting the environment upon creation.

When using a reusable bag, be smart about which foods you pair with each other. Bring enough bags to separate raw meats as well as dry products from other foods to prevent contamination. Wash your reusable bags frequently, for dirty bags can be the cause of illnesses and in extreme cases, E. coli. Also, take enough bags to stores for all of your items to fit to ensure nothing is crushed or overstuffed.

By taking your own bag to go shopping, you will be able to carry more in one bag and will be part of a city-wide reduction of waste. In foreign countries such as Bangladesh, plastic bags were clogging sewage systems. I find those protesting against the bag ban to be the uninformed ones about where plastic bags go upon disposal and the horrific consequences of having them continuously improperly disposed.

Seattle has joined Edmonds, Bellingham and Mukilteo in this plastic bag ban, and I am anxious to see where it will go next as well as the positive results it will reap.