The campaign kicked off Wednesday morning with a visit from a “Bag Monster,” representing the 500 plastic bags that bag opponents estimate we each use per year to carry groceries and other purchases.
“Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our precious waterways, including the Willamette,” said Kelsey White-Davis of Environment Oregon, which is leading the campaign.
Already, White-Davis said, 800 people have signed a petition asking the Salem City Council to pass an ordinance banning plastic shopping bags.
Similar efforts are underway in Bend, Ashland, Lake Oswego, Beaverton and Tigard. The push follows the failure of a statewide bag ban bill in this year’s legislative session.
Portland, Eugene and Corvallis already have plastic bag bans.
Supporters of a bag ban argue that the bags are difficult to recycle, are made from non-renewable resources, and find their way out of recycling containers and garbage trucks.
“We are a testament that you can have a viable, thriving business without using disposable plastic bags,” said Michelle Suess, sustainability coordinator for the LifeSource grocery store in Salem.
But the biggest threat from plastic bags, they say, is to wildlife, especially in the Pacific Ocean.
“Plastic pollution harms thousands of sea birds and marine animals, like sea turtles, every year,” White-Davis said. “Banning single-use plastic bags in Salem will help protect wildlife in the Willamette and Pacific.”
Campaign organizers hope to convince the city council to vote on the issue this fall, White-Davis said.