Monday, July 27, 2009

Vote Yes on Referendum 1

Seattle residents will soon be receiving their August ballots in the mail, and one of the most closely watched votes is Referendum 1, which decides whether or not to place a fee on plastic and paper bags.

As I wrote in my previous post on this topic, the fee was already passed by the city council, but then it was forced to a referendum. Keep in mind that a large portion of the funding to oppose the fee is coming from The American Chemistry Council (which lobbies for companies like Exxon and Dow Chemical and makes money from the sale of disposable plastics). The lobby has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into defeating the referendum.

There are many reasons why the fee is a good idea:

  • It will greatly reduce the use of both paper and plastic bags and therefore the resources used to make and transport them, as well as the litter generated after the bags are used.
  • Part of the revenue from the bag fee will go towards an educational campaign and towards purchasing reusable bags for low-income families.
  • Many cities and countries have instituted or are considering instituting a similar initiative, and many eyes will be on Seattle to see what our city does.
But perhaps the most compelling visual reminder of why the fee is a good idea came this afternoon, when I saw a homemade sign on Westlake Avenue asking voters to support the bag fee. Fifty yards down the road (and less than a hundred yards from Lake Union), I saw a plastic bag clinging to brush, hanging on until another gust of wind blew it elsewhere to live on as non-biodegradable trash, maybe even joining up with fellow plastic garbage on the infamous litter island known as the Pacific Garbage Patch.

If you live in Seattle, please vote yes on Referendum 1 by August 18th, and urge everyone you know to do the same.

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