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Portland bans the bag

July 22 2011 | Policy, Victories, Plastics,

24 hours ago I was sitting in Manhattan talking with our NYC Surfrider chapter leaders about the possibility of NYC banning the single-use plastic bag.

On one had we saw it as very possible, Mayor Bloomberg is a progressive leader and NYC's culture is more of a reflection of the globe than the country.

On the other hand we would be talking about a substantial challenge due to the clear commercial interests that have shown a willingness to push millions into politicians hands as a vote comes up.

As I was processing what it would take for NYC to ban the bag I heard the news that another relatively large city passed a bag ban.

Portland voted 5-0 to ban the bag. This is the kind of momentum that helps cities all over the world embrace sound shifts that benefit the environment,

Before I share any more about the potential in other large cities, let me first congratulate all the activists, staff, partners and board members that helped make this a reality.

Driving change in cities isn't easy. The back-story for what our Portland chapter did is impressive. They were given four days lead time regarding the hearing for this issue. In the past four days they helped attract and organize

  • 3 state legislators to testify
  • 2 large grocery retailers testify
  • 150 supporters to show up dressed in ban the bag t-shirts
  • 5 bag monsters
  • Largest material recovery operator in Oregon testimony
  • 5 major news stations

And of course the Portland chapter coodinated lots of testimony.

This is a massive win for the people of Portland but it's actually larger than that because it adds to the momentum to single-use plastic bag bans around the world. Congratulations to all involved in this fight.

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