Posted September 17, 2012 by Cooper Point Journal in Letters & Opinion

Plastic Bags: A Menace Within

If you haven’t heard, plastic bags are on the outs. As a young environmental idealist from Idaho (a surprisingly conscious state, considering its very red loyalties), I was happy as a new resident of Seattle to lend a hand in the recent bag ban fight.

I hooked up with a small group located in downtown Seattle aptly named the Fund for the Public Interest just days after my big move. Consisting of about a dozen or so college students and a few graduates, the Fund for the Public Interest has teamed up with some more well-known environmental defenders like the Sierra Club and Environment Washington to bring this pressing issue to the doorstep of the people it directly affects: Washington residents.

When I call this initiative a fight, I don’t mean any old scuffle.

This blight upon our beautiful bays and scenic seas is a very real danger threatening not only our famous waters (a huge tourism draw), but the entire marine ecosystem from the majestic orcas down to the humblest phytoplankton.

While this ban does not include canvas, paper, or produce bags, it specifically targets the non-biodegradable plastic bags made from non-renewable sources.

According to council-member Mike O’Brien (whom I had the good fortune to meet through my stint as a canvasser), as the bags diminish in size, they remain as hazardous to the animals that accidentally consume them.

The linking effect through the food chain of these toxic tidbits ensures wildlife on all levels is put at risk by our addiction to convenience.

And this was the most cited reason I heard by persons opposed to the ban. Among them, the ease of retrieving dog leavings and the suitability of the bags to hold kitty litter (This connection to fecal frustration was not lost on me.)

I say good on Seattle. By ending the promotion of plastics on July 1, 2012, they joined the prestigious ranks of cities like San Francisco, CA; Portland, OR; and Bellingham, WA. Olympia, it’s your turn.

By Carson Ball