Voters in Issaquah, Washington narrowly rejected Proposition 1, a ballot measure that if passed would have repealed the plastic bag ban and bag charge. The measure lost by a narrow margin of only 350 votes.
The King County Department of Elections reported that out of 19,302 registered voters in the City of Issaquah, a total of 7,590 ballots (or 39.32%) were returned by mail and counted. A total of 3,595 “Yes” votes (47.68%) and 3,945 ‘No” votes (52.32%) were cast. The “No” vote keeps the bag ban ordinance previously passed by the City Council in place.
Proposition 1 was placed on the ballot by a grass roots group called Save Our Choice. Save our Choice was founded in December 2011 to first oppose the Seattle bag ban and bag tax and is a band of grassroots volunteers dedicated to fiercely defending consumer and merchant choice. Save Our Choice collected more than 15% of all Issaquah voters to qualify the measure for the ballot in October 2013. (Clark, 2014) Subsequently, Mr. Craig Keller, cofounder of Save Our Choice, successfully challenged the ballot title and description in court and won several much needed wording improvements to the ballot title and description.
According to Mr. Craig Keller, co-founder of Save Our Choice, Proposition 1 would have easily won had more grass roots volunteers turned up to help with the effort. Mr. Keller stated that few volunteers came out to help during freezing cold and windy weather prior to the election to stand outside stores handing out “message” bags and “Free Issy” decals before the election. Each “message” bag was a plastic bag with a message to vote “Yes” on Proposition 1 as shown in the illustration.
Litter from fast food waste makes up 29.4% of roadside litter. Should we ban fast food takeout? Now, before you answer, plasticgrocery bags make up less than 0.6% of all roadside litter and cities all over California are banning plastic grocery bags! The good news is that fast food takeout is not being banned, but it begs the question “Why are plastic grocery bags singled out when their contribution to litter is miniscule?”
In fact, officials who vote for plastic bag bans cannot even point to a plastic bag litter problem in their own community! Let alone a problem of sufficient magnitude that would justify a ban. Litter surveys are rarely ever conducted and when they are, they are conducted in a haphazard manner leading to questionable results. Decisions to implement bag bans are usually based on anecdotal evidence, questionable at best, offered by environmental groups such as showing pictures of a few plastic bags littered around town, in the river bed, and pictures of a turtle chewing on a plastic bag.
Everything that man uses is littered. Ever see a discarded candy wrapper, a paper bag, a milk carton, a mattress, a sofa, or a tire on the side of the road? Life would be tough if we ban everything that is littered, including plastic grocery bags. Despite the lack of evidence that plastic bag litter is a significant problem, let’s assume it is and look at more cost effective and appropriate methods of dealing with that litter, methods that would be beneficial to the community.
Currently, retail stores distribute plastic and paper bags to customers at checkout to carry their purchases home at no additional charge. The cost of these bags is included in retail prices paid for and shared by all customers.
Customers who choose to use no bags or reusable bags still pay a small portion toward paper and plastic bags, even when they choose not to receive such bags. However, some stores do credit customers for every reusable bag used.
The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590) commonly referred to as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare” was passed and signed into law on March 23, 2010. (Wikipedia) You might ask the question “What does Obamacare have to do with a plastic bag ban?” A lot more than you think! The similarity of characteristics between Obamacare and plastic bag bans is striking in many areas.
A Plastic Bag Ban, like Obamacare, is a product of progressives who implement big government, top down, totalitarian solutions in response to real or imagined problems. To see what Obamacare and Plastic Bag Bans have in common, read on!
What Bag Bans and Obamacare Have in common
Obamacare was passed on a single party line vote and signed into law despite the overwhelming opposition by the public. (Williams, 2014) Likewise, plastic bag bans are passed into law by progressive city councils or county board of supervisors even though more than 50% of the public is opposed. In other words, like Obamacare, plastic bag bans are forced down the throats of the public whether you like it or not.
Obamacare prevents health insurance companies from selling insurance policies that do not meet federal coverage standards. Likewise, state and local bag ban ordinances prevent retail stores from distributing plastic carryout bags that do not meet reusable bag standards and are at least 225 mils thick.
On 1 October, 2013 the Lake Tahoe City Council voted 3-2 to ban “single-use” plastic bags distributed at the check stand for customers to carry purchases home. Councilmembers Hal Cole, Angela Swanson, and Brooke Laine voted for the ban and Mayor Tom Davis and councilmember JoAnn Conner voted against the ban. What makes this plastic carryout bag ban ordinance different from others is that is does not mandate a fee for paper bags; does not require retail stores to keep records and report to the city on the number of paper bags distributed and fees collected; and does not implement an enforcement mechanism by the city. The council decided that it is up to the retailer to decide if he wants to charge a fee for paper bags or recover the cost of paper bags through higher retail prices.
You hear it over and over again, “plastic bags do not decompose and will last a thousand years in a landfill” and “they will be here long after I am gone!” A Google web search will show hundreds of articles with the same theme and in all cases the writers attempt to convey how bad this is and why we should ban plastic carryout bags. Look at what some say:
Plastic bags are not biodegradable … and end up in landfills where they may take 1,000 years or more to break down into ever smaller particles that continue to pollute the soil and water. (West)
A plastic carrier bag will take up to 1000 years to break down once it is in the landfill. Compare that to its useful life which can be measured in minutes – the length of time it takes to get our shopping home from the store before being dumped in the dustbin. (Green)
Plastic bags also have a hard time decomposing; estimates range from ten to twenty years when exposed to air to 500–1,000 years in a landfill. (Cadman)
But what do these writers NOT tell you? They don’t tell you that the raw materials, oil and natural gas, from whose byproducts plastic carryout bags are made, were in the ground for thousands if not millions of years. So all that we are doing is putting back into the ground what we extracted from it in the first place, but we put it back in a different and more stable form.