How the Plastic Bag Ban is Affecting Seattle, One Month Later

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On July 1, Seattle began enforcing the ban on many types of plastic bags.  In December, 2011, the City Council voted to approve the ban. 

 At that time it was met with a variety of feelings. Some people were worried about how it would affect their usual shopping habits and there was strong support from others who embraced the idea.  I support the ban and am very interested to see how the public responds and what the long term benefits may be for Seattle and our environment.

 While the ban has been in effect for a short period of time, I want to share a letter with you that I received from Joe Rogoff Regional President of Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods has been tracking how people are responding to the plastic bag ban at their stores located at Interbay, Roosevelt Square and Westlake.  Click here to read the letter. 

 I also want to share with you a brief conversation I had with a tourist from Chicago.  Last week I was taking an elevator at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel.  A man boarded the elevator carrying two large plastic bags filled with items from Bartell’s.  I said “hello” and he remarked that he had to pay five cents for each bag.   I said that it is a new city policy to reduce waste and to protect the environment.  I expected a snide or negative comment and he said, “it is a great idea!” I was surprised and heartened to hear the positive reaction.

 You may recall that in 2009 the Seattle voters overturned a bag tax that was adopted to reduce the use of plastic bags.  Unlike 2009 there has been no effective effort to place a measure on the ballot to overturn the current ban on the plastic bags. 

 It may be that more people are beginning to realize that our use of plastic and the effect on our waste system is not acceptable.  Seattle is not alone – Bainbridge Island, Bellingham, Edmonds, Mukilteo and, most recently, Issaquah have passed similar bans in the last year or so. 

 What I see just by watching people at the grocery stores is a fairly quick shift by customers bringing their bags.  I have about eight reusable bags in my car and frequently dash into the store without taking one.  I am reluctant to accept a bag and too cheap to pay.  So I walk out juggling several items trying not to drop them as I head to the car. 

Here is information on the bag ban

I am very pleased that Mr. Rogoff took the time to write me and to hear of the support of the ban by Whole Foods. 

 What do you think?