Islanders show support for plastic bag ban

Rebecca Rockefeller speaks to the city council in favor of a ban on disposable plastic bags with the help of her daughter Ava Rockefeller Campbell, 9. - Brian Kelly
Rebecca Rockefeller speaks to the city council in favor of a ban on disposable plastic bags with the help of her daughter Ava Rockefeller Campbell, 9.
— image credit: Brian Kelly

Turns out, whales aren’t the only ones who find plastic bags hard to stomach.

Residents crowded Bainbridge Island City Hall during last week’s council meeting to say they’d had enough of disposable, one-use plastic bags. The council is considering a ban of plastic bags that have long been hallmarks of the grocery industry.

Most of those who testified said they were happy to see them go.

Of the 13 people who offered comment on the proposed ban, 12 said they supported it. One person dissented — a business owner from the Lynwood center area.

To illustrate the level of support, Bainbridge High School junior Chiara D’Angelo Patricio asked that supporters in the chamber stand up, prompting over half the room to stand and applaud.

The 17-year-old told city officials that most of her fellow students also supported the prohibition, and she had collected 5,000 signatures on a petition in favor of the ban.

“Please pass the ban. This is something that’s simple and easy,” D’Angelo Patricio said.

Tony D’Onofrio, sustainability coordinator for Town & Country Market, said that the market favors a pass-through charge on paper bags that would offset the added costs to retailers.

A pass-through charge of up to 5 cents is included in the proposed ban of plastic sacks.

“We have a core value to be stewards of the environment,” D’Onofrio said. “Phasing out single-use plastic bags is a significant step in that direction.”

Town & Country Market isn’t the only local business who is willing to do away with plastic bags.

According to Katrina Rosen, field director for the advocacy group Environment Washington, 13 local business have signed an endorsement letter in support of the plastic bag ban.

Rosen said that after speaking with downtown business owners recently, stores such as Blue Island Shoes and Skookum Clothing are already moving away from plastic bags and support the ban.

Rosen has previously pressed the city council about the plastic problem in the Puget Sound. She reminded them of the gray whale that washed up on a Seattle beach last year, with over 20 plastic bags in its stomach.

“Whales, seals, salmon and birds can ingest the bags, choke on them, or be harmed by toxins,” Rosen said. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should end up in the belly of a whale.”

Council members completed their first reading of the ordinance, which was proposed by Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos, and forwarded the proposal with little discussion to April 11 for a second reading and possible approval.

Hytopoulos has said that she modeled the ban for Bainbridge Island after the one passed in Seattle.

In its current draft, plastic bags that are 2.25 millimeters thick or less will be banned, preventing their distribution at some retailers on the island such as Safeway, Town & Country Market and Rite Aid.

Thicker and stronger plastic bags commonly provided by the many boutique stores on the island are not included in the ban.

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