Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Corvallis Passes Bag Ban

The bag ban passed at approximately 8 p.m. last night. The ordinance includes a pass-through fee of five cents per paper bag to encourage the use of reusable bags---the first in Oregon!
The Marys Peak chapter of the Sierra Club and its Environmental Action (Enact) Team introduced the resolution, petitions, and the original model ordinance for the city to work from. This success also received necessary support from the Corvallis community, Environment Oregon, the Audubon Society, the Northwest Grocery Retailers Association, and the Surfrider organization. Below, Debra Higbee-Sudyka of the Enact Team testifies to the council and mayor.


The Bag Monster vowed to stay around unless Councilor O'Brien took action. Now it's giving up the ghost in Corvallis and will move on to Eugene. Go Oregon!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bag Ban Needs One Last Push

The Gazette Times reported the BIG news that plastic bags are banned.
It must be true, right? NO, it’s not true—yet.

Next Tuesday, the G-T may have an opposite headline: "Plastic bags NOT banned." To avoid that, we need to get to work. And, I'll need your help.

In order for the ordinance to pass, we just need 5 Councilors to vote yes. If we pack the room with supporters, it will happen. So, let’s do it.

When: July 2, 2012 at 6:00 P.M.
Where: Downtown Fire Station (400 NW Harrison Blvd.)
Why: Ban the Bag in Corvallis

At the last meeting Councilor O'Brien, an opponent of the bag ban, voted yes to ban the bag because he didn't ever want to see the Bag Monster again. So come see the Bag Monster remind Councilor O'Brien that if he votes yes, she will go home :)

Many OSU students have done their part to move this forward. Now's the time for one last push!

Talking points:

Reasons to Ban Paper Bags:
  • Wastes Resources. Single-use, disposables of any type is a wasteful use of valuable resources. Respecting the natural world and its natural resources is an important ethic to encourage.
  • Switch to Reusable Bags. When the local Sierra Club submitted the ordinance the title was “Encouraging Reusable Bags and Prohibiting the Use of Single-Use Plastic Carryout Bags.” They chose that title for a good reason. Switching to more sustainable reusable bags is the goal.
  • Many Cities are Banning Bags. In California, there are 42 cities and 6 counties that have plastic bag bans. All have a price requirement except for 4 cities. In Washington, five of six cities have passed a plastic bag ordinance.
  • Business Support. Corporations and businesses are not automatically against sustainability or environmental concerns. Sixty local downtown Corvallis businesses and the Northwest Grocery Association (which represents the large grocers) have signed letters of support for the ordinance. This is a testimony to the fact that this ordinance is both good business and good environmental stewardship. Business interests and environmental interests are not naturally in opposition.
  • An Incentive Cost on Paper Bags: This accomplishes many goals, and prevents negative outcomes such as the following:
  1. Costs will Rise. Paper bags are more expensive than plastic. Without a pass-through fee on paper, the grocer’s paper bag costs will go up, which will be passed onto the customer in higher merchandise costs.
  2. Single-use Habit Not Changed. Studies have shown that people go from single-use plastic to single-use paper. This does not change the single-use issue.
  3. Less incentive for Reusable Bags. Without a pass-through cost, people have less incentive to go to reusable bags.
  4. Disposable ethic reinforced. “Free” single-use items reinforce our wasteful, disposable ethic. Without a cost for paper, it does little to change the culture around the use of disposable shopping bags.* Making the cost apparent will start to turn this around.
  5. Environmental Impact. With "free" single-use paper bags, it makes non-plastic more acceptable. Therefore people move to single-use paper bags, despite potentially higher environmental and GHG impacts even when paper bags are recycled.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Don’t miss this BIG event…

The Corvallis City Council will vote on the ordinance
  • to ban single-use plastic checkout bags

When: Monday, June 18 at 7:00 p.m.

Where: Downtown Fire Station, 400 NW Harrison (public input from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m.)

Why: Because – It’s Time. Forty-seven cities and counties in California from Los Angeles to San Francisco have banned single-use plastic checkout bags. Portland and cities across the state are moving forward with their own initiatives. Now is the time for Corvallis to demonstrate similar leadership in support of a sustainable future for all people and our natural environment. 
And, because of the environmental and economic impacts. Plastic bag pollution is in communities throughout the country. Plastic lasts for hundreds of years in our environment and may never biodegrade in the ocean. As a result, it poses a persistent threat to wildlife, killing millions of marine animals like sea turtles and sea birds every year.

Come and join us. Let’s give the Councilors support and let them know we’re ready.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bag Monster Tells Its Story to City Council

The Administrative Services Committee of the Corvallis City Council received testimony from many in support of  an ordinance to ban single-use plastic bags at the check-out.The ordinance is still a work in progress and may include a "pass-through" paper bag fee of five cents to "incentivize" use of reusable bags. The Sierra Club's, Mary's Peak Chapter, Environmental Action Team, had earlier pushed for a City Resolution calling for the elimination of single-use plastic check-out bags, and then continued by promoting a model ordinance to ban these bags. There have been many studies, iterations and meetings.

Yesterday, Suzanne Lazaro told the Bag Monster's story to Corvalllis City Council. Here's an excerpt from the Bag Monster's speech:

"I was created in a time of magic and belief that growth was infinite and without consequences; now I have billions of Bag Monster brothers and sisters around the world, multiple generations, 500 bags each one.. and some of them are telling me about the choking sea life... and I  became sad and wanted to change things. Others tell me about Canada's Atlantic Superstore meeting public acceptance and success with becoming a "bag-less" store.  I decided to help others get signatures and am presenting you with 1,113 signed requests to ban single-use plastic check-out bags at stores in Corvallis. I brag to people about Corvallis; I want to continue doing so."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The ‘Bag Monster’ Presents 1,111 Citizen Petitions to the City Council

Today the Marys Peak Group of the Sierra Club, with the Bag Monster, presented to the Administrative Services Committee (ASC) 1,111 citizen petitions in support of the ordinance to reduce single-use plastic waste in Corvallis.

The petitions were signed by individuals who want to “encourage the use of reusable bags and reduce our dependence on finite natural resources.” The best way to do this is to ban single-use plastic bags and have a “pass-through cost” on single-use paper bags. If the cost of a paper bag is made apparent, which is now hidden in a customer’s purchase, this will remind us to bring our reusable bags.

The Sierra Club proposed an ordinance in November 2011 that bans single-use plastic carryout bags along with a five-cent pass-through charge on paper bags. Today, the City Staff presented an ordinance that bans plastic bags without a pass-through cost on paper bags. A ban on single-use plastic bags without an incentive to switch to reusable bags will cause people to overwhelmingly switch to paper bags.

Portland is experiencing this, as did San Francisco, which passed a similar ordinance. An ordinance without a pass-through cost means the problem switches from one single-use bag to another, which causes a hardship for retailers and does not break the single-use habit. San Francisco just voted to expand their ordinance and added a 10-cent minimum charge on paper bags. The Northwest Grocery Association will be at the ASC meeting to support this finding.

The Northwest Grocery Association, Sierra Club Attorney Dan Snyder, the First Alternative Co-op, Environment Oregon, and the Surfrider Foundation will attend and provide information on why a pass-through cost on single-use paper is important.

According to Debra Higbee-Sudyka, vice chair of the Marys Peak Group, “We received 1,300 signatures of support last November from Corvallis residents for the ban on single-use plastic checkout bags, and recently 55 letters of support were signed from businesses. We are now showing further support through the 1,111 petitions that people have signed in support of the ordinance.”

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

OSU Students Promote Bag It Corvallis at High School

Students from Oregon State University's GEO 300 class gave a presentation on Bag It Corvallis at the Corvallis High School yesterday.

For more info on the current state of the campaign, check out today's story in the Gazette-Times: City staff: Don't push plastic bag ban

The City Council’s Administrative Services Committee met today to discuss the ban. Stay tuned and wish us luck...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Please Comment on City's Final Report!

Dear Friends of Bag It Corvallis,

On behalf of the Sierra Club’s Marys Peak Group, I would like to bring your attention to the City Staff’s Final Report on the “Process for Addressing Single-Use Plastic Bags.” The City will submit their Report at the Administrative Services Committee meeting next Wednesday, May 9 at 4 p.m. where you have the opportunity to comment.

The City’s recommendation is that the City Council not pursue an ordinance of any kind, but instead direct staff to look to our community partners to achieve the Council's goal. In lieu of an ordinance they will “speak with the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, specifically the Waste and Education Action Teams, about what grass-roots actions they could pursue to encourage retailers to reduce or eliminate the use of single-use plastic bags.”

City Staff also drafted an ordinance (see Attachment I in the Final Report). The ordinance lacks enforcement and they acknowledge that it “therefore is of questionable value.”

In the City’s documents the environmental, policy, or cost-saving reasons that explain the need for an ordinance is not mentioned. On April 4, 2011, the City Council adopted “Resolution 2011-06,” in support of a state-wide plastic bag bill, which listed policy and environmental reasons for the resolution and for a possible future ordinance. The Sierra Club’s ordinance “Encouraging Reusable Bags and Prohibiting The Use Of Single-Use Plastic Carryout Bags” submitted November 2011 also included reasons why an ordinance was needed. This important information should have been included in the City’s information and draft ordinance.

Corvallis is a green community, and has won many awards for this. City of Corvallis recently received Corvallis Tourism's Gaea Award, which recognizes an entity who demonstrates excellence in ecological stewardship required for sustainable tourism; Corvallis is cited as the #1 city in America for green buildings per capita; Corvallis was voted one of Sunset Magazine's favorite eco-friendly small towns. The City of Corvallis is presented with the opportunity to live up to its reputation. Single-use disposable plastic checkout bags are not sustainable and we have the opportunity of following Portland’s lead in banning them.

Because of your interest in maintaining Corvallis’s leadership in sustainability, please join us in commenting on this small but important sustainability goal. The Administrative Services Committee will make a decision on the City’s proposed ordinance on Wednesday, May 9 at 4 p.m. at the Madison Avenue Meeting Room (500 SW Madison, across from City Hall).

Thank you,

Debra Higbee-Sudyka
Marys Peak Group – Sierra Club