Archived entries for Surfrider

A Better Bag Ban

As the one year anniversary of Portland’s action to ban plastic checkout bags approaches, it’s a good time to pause and take into account what’s happening around the state as well as revisit the effectiveness of Portland’s ordinance. The city took an important first step in the state of Oregon, ridding the mass consumption, inevitable pollution and waste-stream problems that these pesky plastic bags incur. But did the city go far enough, what are other Oregon cities doing and what’s on the horizon for the state?

Undoubtedly, the City of Portland made huge strides in cutting down on the plastic bag waste-stream, about 8.5 million fewer plastic bags per month, according to a report from just 23 of the 55 major grocers that participated in the Northwest Grocery Association’s 6 month study following the ban. In just six months, in just those subset of stores, we are talking about 52 million bags! This simply just demonstrates the scale of the issue, imagine if all retailers in Portland banned plastic bags!

That seems convincing enough, and the sky certainly didn’t fall after the ban took affect; yet, a closer look into the report demonstrates a slight increase in reusable bag use and a steep increase (nearly 500 percent) in paper. The bag ban in itself while eliminating plastic, was just as important an effort to shift people towards reusables. We applaud the work of the City of Portland, the partnerships and all of the Bring Your Bag” outreach and education work, but we feel we’re still not hitting our ultimate goal through this current policy as the paper bags stack up.

That, and a little nudge from the businesses and grocery association that feels the burden of increased paper bag use, is exactly what put Corvallis and now Eugene on the track for banning plastic bags and requiring a nickel pass through cost for paper bags. Corvallis last week trumped Portland’s ordinance, applying the plastic bag ban to all retailers in the city and requiring a 5 cent pass through cost on paper bags to encourage reusable bags.

Simply put, the pass through cost helps shift consumer behavior. We live in a capitalistic society and decisions consumers make are highly motivated by the dollar. And, it doesn’t take much as we look around to see what other cities are doing. Certainly the path to ban plastic bags was laid in San Francisco, sans fee on paper, but revisiting the policy years later, San Francisco was joined by 40 some cities in California that found the fee necessary based on consumer behaviors. A necessity, but does it really work?

Consider this, in Washington DC a bag fee was placed on plastic bags and the little 5 cents shifted consumers from an estimated 270 million bags per year to 55 million bags per year. The businesses that reported, estimated a range of bag use down by 50%-80%. And that makes good business cents too…nickels add up to business savings and the dramatic decrease in bag use means substantial reduction in overhead costs to businesses.

As Eugene, Ashland, Newport and others in Oregon look to move on the plastic bag issue, we hope they will keep in mind what we’ve learned and what Corvallis took to law last week, plastic bag bans are about shifting consumer behaviors to reusable options. The application to all retailers and the pass through cost on paper are the most effective strategies to do this. It makes good business sense. It makes good environmental sense. With these cities actions in mind and Portland on the cusp of revisiting the ordinance, it’s clear that when Salem fails to act, the citizens will act locally…before you know it, the next legislative session will be underway.

Sifting The Synthetic Sand in San Francisco

(Photo courtesy of Carolynn Box. Editor’s Note:  This is the first post by San Francisco Surfrider Activist, Carolynn Box. We’re very pleased to welcome her to the Ban The Bag blog.)

San Francisco is often referred to as the “greenest” city, while Bay Area cities get shoved to the side because violence and poor education cannot be overlooked. Except, there is no denying that the entire Bay Area has been implementing programs and taking steps to reduce the environmental problems related to plastic pollution. All efforts are worthy of recognition.

In response to statistics estimating that over one million plastic bags enter the San Francisco Bay each year, the Bay Area, beyond the city of San Francisco is finally moving forward with plastic bag bans. As most know, in 2007, San Francisco was the first city to ban plastic bags in the US. San Jose followed in 2010 and Marin County followed in 2011. Sunnyvale, Alameda County and Santa Clara County will hopefully follow shortly.

A lesser known fact is that the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board, the state agency that implements California’s Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act and the Federal Clean Water Act, has identified trash as a “pollutant” in the Bay and is now requiring 76 municipalities to reduce trash entering the Bay from stormwater drains and waterways by 100% by 2022, as described in the Municipal Regional Stormwater Permit (MRP). In order to comply with the strict trash reduction requirements, many cities are installing new devices to trap trash before it enters storm drains. Municipalities are also encouraged to move forward with ordinances that ban plastic bags. San Francisco is not included in the massive regional permit because “the City” has a combined sewer system, meaning stormwater is pumped through the water treatment plants, along with sewage. In theory, trash should not pass through the system and enter the Pacific Ocean. Sadly, during the rainy season, the system is designed to pump the “overflow” stormwater directly to the ocean.

An even lesser known fact is that the San Francisco Surfrider Chapter has been implementing beach cleanups since before the 1990s and is about to revamp their beach cleanup program to focus on plastic pollution. In addition to establishing a technique to log the quantity and types of trash picked up at cleanups, the Plastic Beach Project will include conducting beach transects at local beaches. Beach transect data will help determine which beaches accumulate the most plastic pollution. One goal is to use this information to raise awareness and build more support to expand plastic bag bans in the region.

The Plastic Beach Program was established by me, Carolynn Box, often called C.Box and sometimes called Boxy. I have a background in coastal management and work for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the state agency that protects the Bay from inappropriate development. I have become slightly obsessed with plastic pollution over the last year after being part of plastic pollution research voyages across the South Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans. I continue to fight the fight against plastic pollution and single-use plastic through my involvement with San Francisco Surfrider.

Senate Fails to Pass Bag Ban – Local Govs Move Forward

After an epic battle against the goliath out-of-state plastic industry’s various misleading ads, scare media and unrealistic recycling solutions campaign, Senate Bill 536, a bill to enact a statewide ban on single use plastic checkout bags died today. The good news is that all of the cities and grassroots support for passing local ordinances in the absence of a statewide ban is now springing into action. In a statement to the Oregonian, Mayor Sam Adams says, “I’m disappointed that a statewide ban won’t be enacted this session. However, I’m committed to moving forward with a local ban on plastic bags in Portland.” And that’s something our full coalition will be working on in many cities throughout the state of Oregon in the coming weeks. By discussing this statewide legislation, Oregonians have become more aware of the environmental and economic impacts created by single use plastic bags. Surfrider Foundation is committed to Rising Above Plastic and would like to thank the tens of thousands of individuals that continue to support this effort as well as the over 500 businesses and many local governments that have stepped up with their own commitments. Attached below is a link to our official press release:

Senate Bill 536 Press Release

If you missed Bag It – Share the trailer!

We can’t thank our volunteers enough for all the work they put in to helping make this event a reality. We’re hoping to begin scheduling Bag It screenings for elsewhere in the state. Contact us if you are interested in organizing a screening in your area.

Send Surfrider PDX Chair to Sea – Vote today!

Surfrider’s Portland Chapter Chair, Nastassja Pace, has been volunteering and advocating for awareness on the marine plastic pollution for years. She has been tirelessly fighting for the campaign – BAN the BAG – to ban single-use plastic bags in Oregon, taught thousands of children about re-use and recycling practices and makes art depicting the plastic pollution problem plaguing the worlds’ oceans.

Right now, Nastassja has the opportunity of a lifetime — to join 5Gyres, scientists and activists aboard Sea Dragon on a 10 day sailing trip in the South Pacific Gyre to study and document marine plastic debris.

Please help Nastassja win the Chaco Wave of Change Art Contest by voting for her plastic wave painting today! Simply click on the link here and had her name, Nastassja Pace, to the comments section. And pass the link along. Thank you!

Can’t find friends on Facebook…

then buy ads to scare them.

Take action now! In the latest of scare tactics of the plastic greedy out of state interests, comes this lovely facebook ad to promote their pro plastic pollution action alert. The ad reads “lead, cadmium, there may be more in your reusable bag than groceries”. Come on you guys, this childish scare tactic is getting old, but nonetheless, let’s take a look at the same study they seem to be referencing and see what the actual findings are. Wholly crap, the findings were this: 6 single use-plastic bags failed for dangerous lead, chromium or mercury levels, and 1 paper and 1 reusable bag (not in Oregon). Nice scare tactic highlighting the very study that merely demonstrates that these chemicals are more commonly found in single use plastic bags, the very thing their out of state bought and paid for website from is promoting.




Eat Sustainable Sushi and Help Support Ban the Bag!

New Years resolution to lose weight? Support your local community? Be green?

You can do all three by dining at BAMBOO SUSHI from Jan 31st to Feb 6th!

Say BAN the BAG when making your order &

10% of all the proceeds will go to the Surfrider PDX Chapter!

Bamboo Sushi is the first 3rd party certified sustainable sushi restaurant in the world! They partner with Marine Stewardship Council, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Blue Ocean Institute, Salmon Nation, KidSafe Seafood, and the Green Restaurant Association to ensure their meets, seafood, and produce are as local as possible and managed and harvested in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible way.

Surfrider PDX Chapter and Bamboo Sushi are now partnering to help BAN the BAG in Oregon. In Portland, we live on one of the 5th largest watersheds in the world, the Columbia Slough, which makes its way to the Pacific Ocean. Plastic bags, when littered or blown away, often make their way into our waterways and eventually the ocean. Once there, they cause many detrimental effects to marine wildlife such as entanglement or starvation upon consuming the plastic mistakenly.

Please support BAN the BAG – Surfrider, your local business, your health and your environment by heading to…

Where: Bamboo Sushi at 310 S.E. 28th Ave Portland, OR

When: Jan 31st to Feb 6th / Dinner 7 nights a week 5 – 10 p.m.
Happy Hour M-F 5- 6:30 p.m

What: Don’t forget to say “BAN the BAG”

California Vows to take on plastic industry

Love how that supervisor takes on the plastic industry Howard Dean style!

Dig it, Ban the Bag goes Hip Hop

Plastic Bags Are Forever

We’re excited about these billboards, up on local I-84 and I-5. Will you be taking a stand against plastic bags on July 14? Come join us and help ban the bag!

Portland Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Copyright © 2004–2009. All rights reserved.

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