Plastic Pollution, Bag Bans
July 21 2011

Portland is next as the plastic dominos start to fall

by Bill Hickman

Earlier this month news came out of Washington that the City of Bellingham banned plastic bags and put a fee on paper bags. Last week a similar story is coming out of Portland, Oregon. After state legislators failed to act on SB 536 this year, which would have enacted a statewide bill, Portland Mayor Sam Adams was quick to get his city committed to a plastic reduction effort. On Thursday, Portland City Council voted 5-0 to ban plastic carryout bags at retailers and allow them to charge a fee for paper bags.

This is a big victory, four years in the making, for the environment, Mayor Sam Adams, the Surfrider Foundation Portland Chapter and many others.  After Oregon lawmakers failed to act on SB 536, a statewide carryout bag bill, Portland and Mayor Sam Adams declared this an emergency ordinance to move it forward quickly since state legislators fumbled the ball.  Since it was an emergeny ordinace it required a unanimous vote from city council and luckily they all saw the value of this bag ordinance.

Council chambers were filled last week as 'bag monsters' and lots of 'Ban The Bag' supporters filed in to let their voices be heard.  Out on the streets activists raised awareness with signs and bullhorns while recruiting more people to attend the hearing in the middle of the day.  Click Here for great testimony from uber-activist Stiv Wilson.

The Surfrider Foundation Portland Chapter activists have been working long and hard to plan this campaign and finally saw it come to an end after four long years.  Now it's on to other cities in Oregon then back to the capitol for a statwide bill!