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My New Year’s Resolution: Bring the Bags!

While crossing the parking lot this afternoon on my way back from my lunch break I picked up a white plastic bag as it slowly meandered past my feet. Picking up these listless wanderers is so commonplace that it took me a few moments to remember that Oregon’s bag ban goes into place in two days. Henceforth, single-use plastics will no longer be distributed at grocery stores or restaurants. No more will they be the soggy, unwanted item our child finds on the beach, or the twisted cord our waste management workers have to cut out of the processors each hour, driving up our garbage fees. This bag may be the last one I pick up in our beautiful state.

When the Oregon legislature passed a statewide plastic bag ban, also known as the Sustainable Shopping Initiative, in June, they followed the lead of 17 Oregon cities and became the sixth state in the country to ban single-use plastic carry out bags. Shoppers will now have the option to bring their own bags, or pay a 5 cent fee on recycled paper bags. This move will make a significant impact as single-use plastic bags are one of the most commonly found pieces of litter. Oregonians use more than 1 billion of these annually, and many blow out of garbage cans, cars or landfills. Their light weight allows them to blow and drift into streams, rivers and eventually into the ocean. Plastics do not biodegrade, so bags that are used for 10 minutes persist in our environment forever, harming wildlife indefinitely.

As Oregonians, part of our shared identity is a deep connection with our outdoor spaces. We’ve all seen single-use bags snagged on trees near perched birds, lining our creeks, or crammed into drain grates. As a coastal resident, the sight of a floating bag is all too common while crabbing or fishing. With this initiative we are protecting what we love. I’m proud of my state and my fellow Oregonians for taking this common-sense step for the sake of our public land and wildlife. I’ll be celebrating this New Year’s Day with a beach clean-up at Bastendorff Beach. Join me at 11 a.m. and remember to bring your reusable bags in 2020!

Annie Pollard

Coos Bay

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