Enviro Disposable Bag Fee Public Hearing
posted by July 7 at 12:12 PMon
Express your outrage/approval/indifference toward Seattle’s proposed ban on Styrofoam food containers and 20-cent fee on disposable grocery bags at City Hall (600 4th Ave.) tomorrow, Tuesday, July 8, in council chambers at 7:00 p.m.
To recap, the legislation would:
Ban Styrofoam food packaging in grocery stores and restaurants;
Impose a 20-cent fee on disposable shopping bags at grocery, drug, and convenience stores;
Give retailers a portion of the fee to defray administrative costs; and
Provide free shopping bags for seniors and low-income people.
As far as I can tell, there’s no downside. The proposal isn’t compulsory—if you don’t want to pay 20 cents for a disposable bag, all you have to do is bring your own. And if you can’t afford a 75-cent reusable bag, that’s no problem either— the city will give you a bag (or bags) for free.
As for the upside: Seattle residents use around 360 million disposable bags a year. Most of those are plastic. Nationally, we shovel about 100 billion plastic bags into landfills every year , the equivalent of 12 million barrels of oil. Most of the remaining bags end up as debris in places like the North Pacific Gyre, a whirling mass of garbage the size of Texas; just one percent are recycled. According to Planet Ark, an international environmental group, plastic bags kill around 100,000 whales, seals, turtles and other marine animals every year.
Yes, there are other, arguably more pressing, environmental problems—sprawl, SUVs, our oil-dependent economy, to name a few. But I have exactly zero sympathy for people who claim that a fee for disposable bags is onerous, or that it constitutes social engineering, or that it somehow hurts the poor. Our society has been engineered to allow us to ignore the consequences of our actions, and we’re just now starting to undo some of that damage. Put another way: Wasting stuff is not a human right.