Issaquah – In June of 2012, the Issaquah City Council voted in favor of banning single-use plastic grocery bags and the ordinance went into effect March of 2013. An initiative on the ballot this month, Proposition 1, if passed, would overturn Issaquah’s ban on plastic grocery bags.
Cities across Washington State and world-wide have been taking action to ban single-use plastic bags because of their impact on the environment. Once they make it out into waterways, like Puget Sound, they remain forever, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces that marine wildlife like orcas, seals and seabirds often mistake for food. One in ten gulls on Protection Island, off the coast of Orcas Island, were found eating plastic. A beached gray whale in West Seattle was found with twenty plastic bags in its stomach.
“Nothing we use for just a few minutes should be found in the belly of a whale,” said Katrina Rosen, Field Director for Environment Washington, an environmental group that has been advocating for plastic bag bans across Washington State. “That’s why so many cities are taking action to ban single-use plastic bags in favor of reusable alternatives. In fact, ten cities in Washington have banned plastic grocery bags and just Seattle’s bag ban alone has removed 292 million plastic bags from the waste stream.”
Environment Washington joined volunteers this weekend to knock on doors in Issaquah and urge people to vote no on Proposition 1. “We want to make sure people vote in this election and know exactly what they are voting for,” said Rosen. “Voting no on Proposition 1 is voting to protect our marine environment.”
Other proponents of the plastic bag ban are worried that out-of-state plastic manufacturers are using Issaquah to stop the growing trend of cities across the state banning plastic grocery bags.
“The idea to eliminate plastic bags in Issaquah came from a group of Girl Scouts who live in Issaquah,” said Mark Mullet, State Senator for the 5th Legislative District. “Someone who is not a resident of our community, with the support of the plastic bag industry, started this repeal effort after failing to overturn a similar law in Seattle. This law has been a huge success. Overall bag usage is down 85%, which includes paper and plastic.”
Senator Mark Mullet, previously a member of the Issaquah City Council, has been urging people to vote no on Proposition 1.
Other cities, like Tacoma, are also considering similar ordinances to ban plastic grocery bags.
“We are excited to see so many cities throughout the state of Washington taking action to ban plastic grocery bags,” said Rosen. “We hope to see the entire state protect Puget Sound by banning plastic grocery bags soon.”
Environment Washington is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. For more information, visit www.EnvironmentWashington.org.