Ashland, OR – On Monday night, Ashland citizens and local businesses came together to call of the Ashland City Council to ban plastic bags. As City Councilors discussed the opportunity to ban plastic bags in Ashland, community members packed the room to capacity, so much so that extra chairs needed to be brought in from other meeting rooms.
Community members were also joined by the “Bag Monster,” the mascot of Environment Oregon’s Keep Plastic Out of the Pacific campaign. The Monster consists of over 500 plastic bags—the average number a person uses in one year.
“Oregonians use over 1.7 billion bags every year,” said Rikki Seguin, Conservation Advocate with Environment Oregon. “This is huge contributor to the plastic pollution in waterways, like the Rogue River, and eventually in our oceans. Plastic pollution is an environmental disaster, harming thousands of birds and marine animals every year.”
Supported by numerous members of the community in the audience, the Ashland City Council moved forward in recommending that city staff begin drafting a bag ban ordinance for the Council to vote on in 2014. Other recommendations included rolling-out an educational “Bring Your Own Bag” program to local businesses.
Monday’s City Council study session came at the heels of a recent recommendation from the Ashland Conservation Commission. In late October, the Conservation Commission recommended that the city of Ashland proceed with efforts to draft an ordinance to ban plastic grocery bags.
“Ashland is known across the state for its leadership in sustainability,” said Seguin, applauding Monday’s decision. “Passing a plastic bag ban will solidify Ashland as an environmental leader in the state.”
Oregon has seen growing public support for bans on plastic bags, with three cities, Portland, Corvallis, and Eugene, having passed bans already. Ashland residents have been demonstrating their support of a ban, with over 500 citizen petitions and nearly 100 local businesses endorsements.
“Ashland has the opportunity to live up to its legacy of sustainability and become the first city in Southern Oregon to ban plastic bags,” said Seguin. “By the number of community members in the room tonight, we saw just how much growing support there is here in Ashland when it comes to banning plastic bags.”