Letters to the Editor

Letters | Looking for support for a North Bend plastic bag ban

Every minute, there are a million single-use plastic bags used in the United States.  This is a staggering and alarming statistic, especially considering that many of these bags end up in the landfill or, even worse, in the bellies of whales or turtles or around sea birds’ necks.

Just last year, a gray whale in Puget Sound was found dead with 20 plastic bags in its stomach. This animal was very lethargic many days before it washed ashore and may have been starving to death because of intestinal blockage from plastic.

As a marine mammal biologist and environmental educator, I have had the great fortune to visit some very remote places in our world. We think of these places as untouched and pristine, but many are littered with huge amounts of plastic debris. We now have a great big swirling patch of garbage in our ocean that may be equivalent to the size of the United States. Unfortunately, when an animal is caught in plastic, biologists and observers may only see it once and without a great amount of effort and money, there is little we can do to save the animal.

Eliminating plastic bags is a healthy step in the right direction for our health and the planet’s. The conveniences of keeping plastic bags are far outweighed by the detrimental effects of them. As with everything, a step in the right direction requires thinking out of the box and a grander vision!

Issaquah, Port Townsend, Bellingham, Seattle, and Edmonds all have plastic bag bans in effect. At least 20 nations and 88 local governments have passed some legislation to keep bags out of our environment. It is time for North Bend to get on the bandwagon.

Yet, we need your help in gathering support. The city council must be progressive and pass legislation in order for a ban to go into effect. Because of the number of corporate stores in North Bend, addressing a ban store by store (having them voluntarily stop using plastic bags) is not practical.  Local and state legislation is necessary and will have an effect far beyond the local level.

Without local businesses and citizen support, we cannot show our council how important it is to our community to be leaders and progressive thinkers.

We are gathering signatures to support the ban now. If you would like to sign, please e-mail sahawks@uw.edu.  In the subject line, please state, “I support the plastic bag ban.”  Please include your name, address (must be a North Bend resident) and number in the body of the e-mail.

If you would like to get involved with the group at any level, please join us at our next meeting, 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 1, at 14824 439th Place S.E., North Bend.

Stefanie Hawks-Johnson

North Bend


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