Tag Archives: Referendum 1

Approve the Bag Fee says Seattle Times

The Seattle Times recommends that Seattle voters approve Referendum 1. Referendum 1, on the August 18, 2009 Primary ballot would impose a 20 cent fee on both paper and plastic bags sold at large grocery stores, drugstores and convenience stores.

The Seattle Times notes that it is “a wholly avoidable fee on disposable plastic and paper bags” that will “reduce litter, landfill and environmental damage.” You only pay the fee if you don’t use reusable bags. Most stores have been selling reusable bags for one dollar. After 5 uses you don’t pay any additional costs.

The fact is that the throwaway plastic and paper bags people now use are not and never have been free. The website www.reusablebags.com states that the “annual cost to US retailers for plastic bags is estimated at $4 billion. When retailers give away free bags, their costs are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.”

So it is no wonder that the plastic industry that makes the throwaway plastic bags is freely spending over $1.3 million to try to get Seattle voters to reject the bag fee.

Sure there is some inconvenience in remembering to bring your reusable bags to the grocery store. But we’ve changed our habits before and helped to lead change on the national level.

When Seattle started curbside collection of recyclable, there were people who objected and said it was too much work. A battle at the time also involved plans to build an incinerator to burn garbage and recyclables. A cost benefit analysis showed recycling made more sense and would be less expensive. Recycling and curbside collection won out and over time Seattle residents have made the behavioral changes necessary to comply with separating out recyclables. We have become one of the leaders in recycling nationwide.

The issue with reusable bags also requires social and behavioral changes. Changing our society to a more sustainable one requires action and commitment. Using reusable bags is a small step but there is no away with plastics.

Plastics not degrade but break down into small particles that become contaminants in the ecosystem, particularly the ocean where they disrupt sea life and act as material that toxic chemicals attach to. Small plastic particles with toxic chemicals adhering to them are ingested by zoo plankton and work their way up the food chain. The toxics wind up in seafood we eat. There is no away.

In a post entitled “Plastic in the Plankton” there is this comment:

Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer and marine debris expert in Seattle, says one pound of plastic turns into 100,000 small pieces of plastic if left in the ocean. While oil spills get more attention as an environmental threat, he says plastic is a far more serious danger to the ocean’s health. Oil is harmful but eventually biodegrades, while plastic remains forever, he says. Half of beach debris worldwide is plastic and its impact on the food chain is undetermined, Ebbesmeyer says. Not much is known about the effect of plastic consumption on marine life like jellyfish and fish. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it just gets broken into smaller pieces resembling zooplankton. The plastic is eaten by jellyfish, which are then eaten by fish. In addition to substituting for actual nutrients, plastic also chemically attracts hydrocarbon pollutants found in the ocean like PCBs and DDT. Moore says pollutants accumulate in plastic up to one million times more than in ocean water.

We have a choice of what kind of future we want. Is it continuing a throwaway society with its myriad of problems or making social and cultural changes necessary for the long term health of our planet? Vote to approve Referendum 1 on August 18, 2009.

So How Would You Spend $1,431,259?

Over the next 18 days the American Chemistry Council will finish spending all of it’s $1,431,259 against Referendum 1. Referendum 1 is a measure to charge a 20 cent fee for throwaway bags at large stores in Seattle in an attempt to reduce waste and pollution.

According to the American Chemical Industry, Referendum 1 is the Seattle government’s attempt to steal people’s money by forcing them to pay an outrageous 20 cents for a bag if they forget to bring a reusable bag when they go to the store.

Let’s just ignore the fact that the plastic bag industry makes an incredible estimated $4 billion each year in the United states from selling those “free” plastic bags you get at the grocery store. Who do you think pays that $4 billion? Could it be out of the pockets of consumers like you and me if we use plastic bags instead of bringing our own reusable bags?

So spending $1,431,259 is a small cost to them to try to preserve their profit making business.

Here’s some of what the Campaign Against Referendum 1 has reported they are spending money on:

63,970 phone id calls… $51,035

2 ads in Seattle Times … $43,154

Seattle Times.com … $25,000

PI.com… $40,000

produce 60 radio spots… $9,351.46


3 tracking polls… $64,000

website design … $8,935

conduct 1000 interviews, CHAID and cluster analysis … $35,000

build voter file… $24,800

mailers to 105,000 voters-production… $41,881

4,700 voter registration letters… $11,156

22,140 Recruitment Mailers Production … $17,830

Consulting – Pacific Issue Mgt… $20,000

Develop blogging campaign… $5,000

GC Strategic Advocacy Retainer … $80,000

105,000 Mailers – Production… $51,375

Postage 105,000 mailers… $51,375

Email program -list match … $4,998

graphic design and programming … $12,900

graphic layout … $5,400

copyrighting services … $5,882

Blog strategist … $882

Travel/office expense… $9,886

copyrighting services… $5,882

postage for recruitment mailers… $6,810

postage for mailers … $27,795

e-mail program 3 rounds of e-mail blasts… $8,250

e-mail Program – Copy and design… $5,300

There’s more but I think you get the idea.

So are you convinced yet? I think our local Seattle economy could use a little bit more economic stimulation before we should call uncle and give in to their oil profit motivated propaganda.

Vote Yes on August 18, 2009 on Referendum 1 and keep some of that $4 billion in spare change in your own pocket that they take from US consumers each year by pushing throwaway plastic bags .

Go to the Seattle Green Bag Campaign website to get more information about the citizens campaign to pass Referendum 1. They ask that you “Send a Message to Big Oil: Hands off Seattle. Vote Yes on Referendum 1.

Are Thowaway Bags Something to Get Worked up About?

On August 18, 2009 Seattle voters will have a chance to make a change in the way our society deals with throwaway bags. Will we be in the forefront of change or do we not have time to be bothered by the seemingly trivial issue? Will a $1 million advertising campaign by the American Chemical Society have an impact on the outcome?

Referendum 1, in an attempt to get Seattle consumers to use reusable bags, would impose a 20 cent fee on both plastic and paper bags.

So what the big deal?

Salon.com in a recent article entitled “Plastic Bags are killing us” gives a few insights into both plastic and paper bags and their problems.

-Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they’ve been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It’s equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.

-Only 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled worldwide — about 2 percent in the U.S. — and the rest, when discarded, can persist for centuries.

-The problem with plastic bags isn’t just where they end up, it’s that they never seem to end. “All the plastic that has been made is still around in smaller and smaller pieces,” says Stephanie Barger, executive director of the Earth Resource Foundation,

-Bits of plastic bags have been found in the nests of albatrosses in the remote Midway Islands. Floating bags can look all too much like tasty jellyfish to hungry marine critters. According to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, more than a million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die every year from eating or getting entangled in plastic. The conservation group estimates that 50 percent of all marine litter is some form of plastic. There are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

-In the Northern Pacific Gyre, a great vortex of ocean currents, there’s now a swirling mass of plastic trash about 1,000 miles off the coast of California, which spans an area that’s twice the size of Texas, including fragments of plastic bags. There’s six times as much plastic as biomass, including plankton and jellyfish, in the gyre. “It’s an endless stream of incessant plastic particles everywhere you look,” says Dr. Marcus Eriksen, director of education and research for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which studies plastics in the marine environment.

-It takes 14 million trees to produce the 10 billion paper grocery bags used every year by Americans, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.


Change has to start somewhere. Let’s start here. Vote yes on Referendum 1.

Click here for the link to the Campaign website for GreenBagCampaign.org supporting Referendum 1.