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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Re: When It Comes to the Environment

posted by on February 2 at 12:10 PM

Nice post, Dan.

Dig this:

While the Seattle City Council sleeps, there is a bill in Olympia brought to you, of course, by Rep. Maralyn Chase (D-32, Shoreline) that would ban non-recyclable plastic grocery bags and authorize a fine of up to five hundred dollars per day for providing prohibited bags.

It’s all part of the Rep. Chase Agenda, which we’ve lauded before:

House Bills 2422, 2424, and 2425 (or “The Maralyn Chase Agenda!”)

They laughed at Representative Maralyn Chase (D-32, Shoreline) last year when she proposed a cap-and-trade bill on CO2 emissions and leadership quickly killed it. This year the session started with a Governor Christine Gregoire press conference in Seattle to announce a cap-and-trade bill. Now Representative Chase wants to outlaw nonrecyclable bottles and grocery bags, and outlaw death-to-the-environment small-engine equipment like leaf blowers. Listen to this woman. This year.

Rep. Chase only has three co-sponsors (none of them from Seattle), so I don’t expect this bill to go anywhere.

Maybe if Seattle’s delegationóReps. Chopp (the speaker of the house!), Cody, Dickerson, Hasegawa, Hudgins, Kenney, McIntire, Nelson, Pedersen, Pettigrew, Santos, and Sommersó would join Rep. Chase, we’d see some action on this.

You can find their contact info here. Give them all a call.

RSS icon Comments

1

What an outstanding public servant. I'd vote for her if she were representing my district.

Posted by nose ring guy | February 2, 2008 12:24 PM
2

Ditto that.

Posted by Cleve | February 2, 2008 12:25 PM
3

hey, our council isn't sleeping - closing down noisy nightclubs is even better for the environment!

Posted by kinkos | February 2, 2008 1:14 PM
4

According to Richard Conlin's website:

"On July 16, [2007] the City Council unanimously adopted Resolution 30990, establishing the parameters for a Zero Waste Strategy for Seattle...One amendment to the draft resolution was adopted by my Environment, Emergency Management, and Utilities Committee. The amendment specifies that Seattle Public Utilities must complete its review of possible restrictions on Styrofoam and plastic bags by the end of this year, so that the Council can take up possible action on those issues early in 2008.

SPU's review includes: "Initial products for review will include non-compostable plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam food containers, for which SPU will complete its study and recommendations by the earlier deadline of December 2007."


Well, it's early 2008 now. What's the story?

Posted by me | February 2, 2008 1:56 PM
5

Unfortunately, Maralyn Chase has no credibility in her caucus.

Shoreline politics are insane, and Chase is one of the driving factors of that. She has good ideas, but has squandered her credibility by refusing to work with people. She's pulled hijinks to piss of leadership and hasn't done the work to build coalitions.

Look, you can have great ideas, but you have to have friends to help you do it. Chase hasn't done the work to build those relationships, which is a shame because she has some great ideas that no one will get behind because she's a pariah.

Posted by exelizabeth | February 2, 2008 2:12 PM
6

"Dig this"
"Lauded"

Is this writing by Maynard G. Krebbs?

You got the grove, you one hip cat. Outtasite!

Posted by Strunk & White | February 2, 2008 2:14 PM
7

Proving that if you're not a right wing shithead who wants to use Jesus as an excuse for controlling everyone's life you can always be a left wing shithead who uses the environment. Environmentalism has become little more than puritanism for authoritarians of a leftist bent to control the lives of others.

Here's a wacky idea, since the Stranger is such an environmentalist paper why doesn't every Stranger staffer completely renounce air-travel. Seriously, how much carbon dioxide gets dumped into the atmosphere every time Dan Savage goes on a trip to Providence so he can hang around with Andrew Sullivan or goes to South Carolina so he can get material for the Bill Maher show?

Come on, let's see you fucks at the Stranger actually make a real sacrifice, a sacrifice that will actually mean something to you, that will actually take away something that you enjoy and that makes your life better, for the environment. Dan having hissy fits over non-recyclable plastic bags and Erica telling us how virtuous she is because she doesn't own a car (Which is such bullshit, Erica, can't afford a car, hers was taken away from her because she didn't want to pay for parking and got too many tickets. Claiming that she's virtuous because she doesn't own a car is like my claiming eco-virtue because I don't own a 747.) don't count.

Posted by wile_e_quixote | February 2, 2008 2:19 PM
8

Hey what does "banning non-recyclable bags" MEAN? Does it mean that stores are still free to use paper bags ad nauseum (which are recyclable), and perhaps some other kind of plastic bag that is recyclable? If so, this still does not compare to what Dan was describing. Customers would still be getting bags for free and presumably still using them wastefully.
Or does this bill mean to ban everything but REUSABLE bags (like cloth bags)?

Posted by onion | February 2, 2008 2:25 PM
9

An outright ban on recyclable bags seems like too much. Perhaps instead the city (or the county - hey there, Ron Sims) could levy a tax of 50 cents per plastic bag per store. Usage will drop right away, and maybe the revenue can be used to set up a German-style glass bottle recycling program.

Posted by Greg | February 2, 2008 2:37 PM
10

@5: "Look, you can have great ideas, but you have to have friends to help you do it."

RACIST!!! This is exactly the kind of Klan-robe-wearing argument Hillary invoked to cite why a president was important to help realize the dream of Dr. King. SHAME ON YOU!

@7: If your social worker comes by today, ask him to commit you.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | February 2, 2008 2:50 PM
11

@9: "a German-style glass bottle recycling program"

Dude, if that involves long train journeys to Poland and showers, count me out.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | February 2, 2008 2:52 PM
12

SFO has ALREADY made the move to ban plastic grocery bags in favor of paper which is totally recycle material

ITEM #2, Whole Foods will do the same on the entire chain, announced a week ago, just cause they get it.

Marilyn Chase is a pip, I love her. And yes, she is unconventional, lots of spirit, imagination, never stops talking and thinking, very hard core feminist, and rad, more pro gay than Ed Murray (sorta) .... no wonder she scares the old white guys.

So glad she is there and a strong personality to keep her game going.

(PS, she is very sparkle feminine too, always thought she would be a wonderful fierce lay.... with a boarder state drawl, guessing)

Posted by Essex | February 2, 2008 3:21 PM
13

Iowa started a nickel can deposit when I was in Junior High (much against the grocery industry's protests) and almost overnight the streets were much cleaner.

The only downside is that you have to make your garbage cans much more secure, as people will rifle through them looking for cans.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | February 2, 2008 3:22 PM
14

@11: No, it involves plastic crates, soap and bleach, and bottle deposits. I suppose it's more of a reuse scheme than a recycling scheme.

The way it works is this: pretty much every good that comes in a glass bottle has a bottle deposit. Used bottles get turned in for the deposit, then go to a plant where they're washed out, then get sent back to the manufacturers to be refilled.

Most beer bottles I saw in Germany have worn patches on the shoulder and foot from being run through the bottling machines several times.

Posted by Greg | February 2, 2008 4:06 PM
15

Well, I'm all for bottle deposits and bottle reuse. That would be fine.

Now, currently you can put plastic bags out for recycling in Seattle already. (They have to be in their own little separate bundle, though.) What are they doing with them, then, if not recycling them?

I imagine they aren't compostable, but that's not the same as recyclable. (What do they do with those bags? I figure they are making some plasticky goods with 'em, but I don't know.)

Posted by litlnemo | February 2, 2008 5:17 PM
16

What the ban would mean to me: I'd go out and buy a box of plastic bags to take the place of the shopping bags I now use to take out my garbage in. Judging from the dumpsters near me the use of shopping bags as trash bags is nearly universal. So are trash bags better for the environment than shopping bags bag for bag, because beyond that I don't see a significant advantage here.

Posted by kinaidos | February 2, 2008 5:59 PM
17

the pfand is a great idea, but only if we can import some turks and start a few doener stands. fuck i miss me some doeners, kebabs and yufkas.

Posted by holz | February 2, 2008 6:33 PM
18

Josh:
Where you wrote "ban non-recyclable plastic grocery bags" I think you meant to write "non-compostable" or "ban plastic grocery bags that can not be composted."

Most grocery bags are #2 or #4 plastic and CAN be "recycled" (most things "can be recycled" but that doesn't mean they can be recycled readily or economically, so they aren't often considered "recyclable" at your curbside). What happens to the bags we set out for recycling by SPU or that you take to the bin at QFC or Safeway or Ralphs, FredMeyer, wherever? Most of them (like 98%) get turned into plastic lumber. In the U.S., I don't know of any companies that take plastic grocery bags and then turn them back into other plastic grocery bags. I know of one Canadian company that does do this (can't remember the name) and they have a contract with Toronto or Ottawa or somewhere to do exactly that - but aside from there, more or less no plastic bag gets 'recycled' into a plastic bag. It gets turned into something else. And the actual rate of plastic bag recycling is dismally low (plastics in general have dismal recycling rates).

I think the bill means to ban the sale of plastic bags and encourage the sale of bioplastic bags (which are compostable, i.e., you can put them in your yard waste cart (with your food waste, if any of you bother) and it will be turned into healthy soil).
The wide world of recycling is fascinating!

Posted by hairyson | February 2, 2008 7:04 PM
19

Grocery bags are useful trash bags certainly but I have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more of them than I'll ever re-use. So I don't really get the "but but I'll still have to *buy* trash bags" argument. It'll still be less.

Posted by what what | February 2, 2008 7:23 PM
20

They lost me at "outlaw death-to-the-environment small-engine equipment like leaf blowers."

Tax us for our carbon use if you must (and as you should), but these kind of "sin laws" passed in lieu of actual energy policy reform are stupid beyond belief.

I have to use a leaf blower (I live in a forest) and a lawn mower (no yard but I have responsibility for a large communal parkway) and a snow blower (I'm at 1000'ASL and my long steep driveway is impassible after a snowstorm). Yet for all three of these things put together I probably go through maybe 10gal of gas a year- less gas than the SUV crowd wastes in a week. Yes, I understand that two stage motors put more oil into the air, but a carbon tax that reflects this would cause manufacturers to come up with cleaner solutions in much the same way that rejection of two stage engines in motorcycling and snowmobiling has given rise to cleaner four stroke alternatives.

I'm not a libertarian wackjob, but sometimes letting the marketplace figure things out makes a lot more sense than just making everything illegal.

Posted by Big Sven | February 2, 2008 10:53 PM
21

@5: You're exactly right about Rep Chase. Right on the issues but clueless as to how to get things done.

Also, before you start calling all the named reps, know that they can't cosponsor a bill more than a day after it's introduced. They may support it even if their names aren't on it.

Posted by lorax | February 3, 2008 12:14 AM
22

@5: I'll second the motion about Maralyn Chase. No credibility and no respect from others equals no bills passed in Olympia.

@10: That was a joke, right?

Posted by J.R. | February 3, 2008 9:04 AM
23

I'm curious to know: would these new bags be more expensive than the old ones?

I presume they would be, which means that the poor, rather than the stores, would be the hardest hit by banning cheaper bags (because the grocery store is just going to raise prices to cover the cost of the now-mandatory bags).

Is this the commitment to "social justice" I keep hearing so much about: making the poor pay more when they go to the grocery store?

Nice.

Posted by Ayn_Randian | February 3, 2008 2:51 PM
24

It's likely some of the nasty comments attacking Rep. Chase are from people who have some sort of angst that she is a genuine representative of the people of her district, and not a handmaiden of big business or the self appointed elites who thought they were entitled to fill her legislative seat when there was a vacancy a decade or so ago. Chase has worked valiantly and tirelessly to protect and enhance the quality of life of our entire region. She is knowledgeable about international trade, fisheries and marine issues, environmental health, the developmentally disabled community and their needs, affordable housing and many other important topics that matter to voters in her district and to citizens of our state. Her work is undoubtedly made even harder because of obstacles put in her path by vindicative people. That she remains exuberantly positive about the potential for government to be effective and that she genuinely cares about the world we are creating for our children and grandchildren dispells a lot of the meanspiritedness around her, but you'd think at some point, her popularity would drown out the pettiness that has surfaced on this slog and occasionally elsewhere.

Posted by Shoreliner | February 4, 2008 11:33 PM
25

@23: That's a specious argument. Reusable shopping bags do cost some money, but very little and don't need regular replacements. A $2 replaceable bag from Fred Meyer or Trader Joe's can be reused for basically ever. The 'this is a tax on the poor!' is a red herring. The current plastic bags are only free because the cost of cleaning up after them is borne by the populace at large, either through clean-up crews hired by local governments, littered streets, and damaged soil and water. They're called externalities, and if you ever took a damned econ class you'd know this. If users of the bags had to pay for these costs up front (ie through a tax) then far fewer of the bags would be used.

Posted by NaFun | February 5, 2008 8:30 AM

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