Tuesday, July 17, 2012

2 Weeks and Counting...

In 2 weeks the Bellingham Bag Reduction Ordinance goes into effect...August 1st. This was one of the questions at Boundary Bay Trivia Night just the other day...and as the trivia master said, "August 1st can't come soon enough." This has been the general sentiment across town as it has been a year since our last blog post, announcing the passed law. Our community seems more than ready. Bag It Bellingham has been busy hanging posters and doing "Share a Bag" drives at various stores and the Farmers' Market this past month, gearing up for the big day. The City has a great website with a FAQ for Retailers as well as a
poster that can be downloaded and printed if a store is interested. 115 posters were delivered to Bellis Fair today and many other stores around town wanted more than one when we stopped by with them in hand. Ross already started offering paper bags for 5 cents the first of July, when Seattle implemented a similar ordinance modeled after ours. The manager mentioned that at least 50% of the customers are not purchasing the paper bags because they don't want to pay the nickel a bag and around 15% of the customers are starting to bring their own bags. They were very pleased with how it was going so far and how receptive the customers have been...and to see the changes occurring.
Albertsons has great signage up in their parking lots and hopes to run a promotion the first week, where a customer can purchase a reusable bag for the person behind them in line...paying it forward. Target is planning to give away 4,000 reusable bags to the first 4,000 customers in August. Stay tuned for more news on what other stores have up their sleeves as we near August 1. We are proud to know that Bellingham has helped lead a charge of cities across the NW to pass bag reduction ordinances, with the goal to move to reusable bags, not paper. A recent article has a list of cities with ordinances, and their specifics. With so many variations among them, there will be another effort this coming year to pass a statewide ban in OR and WA calling for a ban on plastic and a fee on paper. Meanwhile, we Bellinghamsters are proud for what we have accomplished, thanks to the many volunteers and citizen support in this effort. Come by the Farmers Market this Saturday to pick up a handmade reusable bag by the Bellingham Walkers Club! OR Stop by Haggen and purchase one of the 3 winning designs on their new reusable bags for sale at the registers. The bag pictured on top was the elementary school winner, artwork by David. And as David says on the bag, LET'S GO GREEN TOGETHER.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Thumbs Up Bellingham!

A huge thumbs up for Bellingham this July for passing the single-use carryout bag reduction ordinance with the City Council's 3rd and final reading on July 25th with final 7-0 vote in favor! At the July 11th meeting, we showed a video of citizens on the street, sharing their thoughts when asked why Bellingham, why now for a bag reduction ordinance. A HUGE thank you goes out to Thinkatron Media Labs for volunteering their services. You may see someone you know in this video, shot earlier this month!

There were also many comments made at the City Council meeting on the 11th that were rather inspiring to hear and you can listen to them all here.

Phyllis and her granddaughter Hope (above) shared their stories, starting at 16:13. A HUGE thank you to Phyllis for getting the ball rolling on this effort a few years ago! Thank you to Stephen Trinkaus of Terra Organica for piloting the ordinance in June who shares his findings beginning at 25:05. Thank you to Chuck Robinson of Village Books who came to tell (at 35:20) how his business made the decision to remove plastic bags a few years ago and what the effect has been. Mayor Dan Pike closes (65:15) with a noted thank you to Haggen and The Markets for coming out and publicly supporting this.

The most moving speaker was a young boy named Darmon (pictured above with his sister Delara) who came to speak (36:31) after only first learning about this 2 days prior when he saw our table at the farmers market. His mother said afterwards that he would have been one of our best volunteers had he known about this earlier. It is stories like this that moves others to action. If you feel you would like to join the efforts of Bag It Bellingham in the next year as we continue our education and outreach, find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/bagitbellingham and post a message. It is people like Darmon and Hope that make this effort all the more worthwhile as this planet will be left in their hands for many years to come. Again, our thanks and gratitude pours out to everyone who helped with this effort, and we thank you in advance for helping our town transition smoothly over the next year, to using reusable bags! Need to end with a thumbs up to our City Council for their collective leadership in voting for this ordinance, with a HUGE thank you to Councilmember Seth Fleetwood for saying yes to taking this on, knowing it was the right thing to do...as well as a thank you to Councilmember Jack Weiss who we learned had worked on this issue several years prior with Phyllis. Both their previous efforts helped pave the way for getting it done now. Thumbs up Bellingham!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hot Off The Press...Still!

Time doesn't stand still when working diligently to pass a city ordinance to promote the use of reusable bags, which was the case on Monday evening! Below is our press release that went out later that evening to over 100 news publications across the state, in hopes to inspire other cities to do the same. It's now Friday and it seems like old news yet, since then, articles have been generated and the news is spreading!

Here are links to a few:
Bellingham Herald, Seattle Times, Crosscut and Puget Sound Business Journal.

Most importantly at this time, a huge thank you goes out to everyone who helped with this effort to get this ordinance passed, and to our City Council members who appreciated the last 4 months of public process and engagement to get the community and local businesses, including major local retailers Haggen and The Markets publicly behind this measure.

PRESS RELEASE from Bag It Bellingham:

City of Bellingham Passes Bag Reduction Ordinance
Strongest Bag Reduction Ordinance in Washington State

BELLINGHAM. Today the Bellingham City Council passed an ordinance to reduce single-use carryout bags at all retail establishments. The ordinance passed 7-0.

Bag It Bellingham, a local effort to reduce single-use bags, worked with City Councilmember Seth Fleetwood, neighborhood associations, and local retailers to create a win-win ordinance. This ordinance is the first in Washington State to prohibit single-use plastic carryout bags and require a minimum 5 cents charge for recycled paper take-out bags. Retailers will be allowed to keep the entire fee. While there are some exceptions, single-use plastic carryout bags cannot be offered by retailers starting in July 2012 - one year after the ordinance was enacted.

Two of the major grocers in Bellingham, Haggen and The Markets, endorsed the ordinance. “In keeping with our longstanding commitment to the environment, Haggen has always supported a reduction or ban on single-use plastic bags,” said Glen Foresman, vice president of retail support for Haggen, Inc. “We were the first to introduce reusable bags in our marketing area.”

"The Markets actively promote reusable bags and offer rebates for customers who shop with them. Sustainability is a key value for us so we're pleased to support this ordinance," said Sue Cole, Public Affairs Director of The Markets. "Thanks to Bag It Bellingham and Council Member Seth Fleetwood for their leadership on this issue."

“Bag It Bellingham did a tremendous amount of outreach in the community to show support,” said Seth Fleetwood. “I am thrilled that Bellingham continues to be a recognized leader of sustainability.”

Bag It Bellingham will work with the city and retailers to help educate the public in the next year so that when the bag reduction ordinance takes effect in July 2012, the transition will be smooth.

“From all of our work with the residents of Bellingham, we are inspired by the willingness of everyone to embrace this step,” said Brooks Anderson of Bag It Bellingham. “Retailers and the city will reduce their costs. It seems a win-win for the stores, environment and the city.”

Jill MacIntyre Witt, of Bag It Bellingham continued, “It is nice to know that Bellingham is doing their proportionate share towards being part of the solution. We are helping spread the message to the rest of Washington and hope this encourages other cities and the state to pass similar legislation.”

The Mount Baker Group of the Sierra Club, People For Puget Sound, Environment Washington, Surfrider Foundation and RE Sources supported the measure and these environmental groups will help to bring similar legislation forward in other jurisdictions in the state.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Updates! Updates! and More Updates!

Loads of updates as we move into June! We continue spreading the word about our bag reduction ordinance proposal and so far we have collected over 2500 signatures in support that we will pass onto the City Council! Above, the Bag Monster was busy gathering signatures at the Bill McKibben event on the Fairhaven Village Green last week! We continue with our education and outreach efforts and have visited 3/4 of our neighborhood association meetings throughout the city so far with most sharing unanimous support.

We were gifted 35 handmade bags crafted by a sewing group, from Bellingham Walkers Club, led by Helen McLeod! These bags were donated as prizes to Everybody Bike for Bike to Work/School Day on May 20th. Thank you to all the sewers for their creations! The beginning of June, Terra Organica launched their pilot program of the proposed ordinance and are proud to not use single-use carryout bags anymore. They are showing their support for the proposal by putting it into action now! Thank you Terra Organica!

On June 22nd the Pickford Film Center will be screening the award winning documentary, "Bag It" at 5:30 pm. If you are on Facebook, please share our event link with your friends. Thanks for spreading the word!

If you haven't done so already, we would love for you to write to your City Councilmembers and let them know that you support the proposed bag reduction ordinance and why. It's important that they hear from you. Here is an email address that will reach all of them at once: ccmail@cob.org.

Did you know that World Oceans Day was a couple of days ago? Here is a GREAT video that tells about the ocean's gyres and the plastic soup found there. Getting rid of single-use plastic at the source is a solution worth implementing!

All the updates for now! Happy June!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Earth Day to May Day

Blogging is tough when there is so much going on...as is the case with our Bag It Bellingham effort to reduce single-use carryout bags in our town! With April as "Plastic Pollution Reduction Month" we packed in the education and outreach events from community screenings of award winning film "Bag It" and "The Clean Big Project" to tabling at the Downtown Farmers' Market, visiting neighborhood meetings, and Earth Day celebrations at Western Washington University!

Mayor Dan Pike spoke at the university's Earth Day celebration and participated in our Reusable Bag Challenge. Anyone who packed all the groceries in our Bag It Bellingham reusable bag in 30 seconds or less received a bag.
It wasn't easy and the Mayor did it in...well...you have to watch the video to find out! Seth Vidana, the Office of Sustainability Coordinator challenged the Mayor's record and is quite the grocery packer. Check out his video where he also shares what Western Washington University is doing to reduce single-use plastic carryout bags! We had many other contestants who all loved the challenge, including the Bag Monster!

At the 10+ April events, we spoke with over 1,500 people who signed a letter to the City Council showing their support for the proposed bag reduction ordinance along with generating over 75 volunteers! The support has been unanimous across the city with only a handful declining to sign the support letter, which brings us to May Day! Bag It Bellingham and our City Councilmember Seth Fleetwood met with the Bellingham Herald's editorial board. It was like defending a thesis, only not knowing what their opinion would be on the proposal. May 1st, the Herald's opinion article stated "Limiting Plastic Bags is the Right Thing to do" and their article spells out why. This month we continue our outreach...and now we're up to over 2,100 letter supporters with more events to attend! The challenge of helping our community learn more about reducing plastic pollution is worth it and we look forward to doing our proportionate share of taking care of the planet one step at a time, one day at a time, one community at a time, knowing that every day is Earth Day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

We're Hopping!

It's "Plastic Pollution Reduction Month" and we're hopping with action and activities! The last 2 weekends at our downtown Farmers Market Bag It Bellingham generated over 500 signatures from people who support the proposed city ordinance to reduce single-use bags in Bellingham!

We have 3 movie screenings scheduled for the award winning film, "Bag It" and they are all FREE and open to the public!

April 19th
Edens North Residence Hall, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225
7pm – open to the public
contact - Ashley.Hill@wwu.edu

April 27th
Whatcom Community College, Syre Center Auditorium
237 W. Kellogg Rd., Bellingham, WA 98226.
1:30 – 3:30 pm – open to the public
Contact - Blanche Bybee bbybee@whatcom.ctc.edu

May 1st
Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship
1207 Ellsworth Street, Bellingham, WA 98225
6:30 pm – open to the public
Contact - Linda Fels gr8fels@msn.com

April 21st - Bag It Bellingham is having a workshop "Ubiquitous Plastic - How to Get a Grip on the Plastics in your Life" at the Sustainable Living Center above the RE Store. 7-9 pm.

April 22nd - EARTH DAY, you can find Bag It Bellingham at the Earth Day celebration at WWU, Performing Arts Center Square from 11-2. Big event with lots of activities and Mayor Dan Pike will be reading the Mayoral Proclamation declaring April Plastic Pollution Reduction Month!

April 23rd - We will also be at WWU Earth Day Celebration at WWU from 10-4 and at downtown Farmers Market.

April 28th - Come see the "Clean Bin Project" at the Sustainable Living Center above the RE Store, 7-9 pm. This movie was made in Vancouver and is about 2 people who tried to live without plastic and other trash for a year!!!

To learn more about other events hosted by RE Sources during "Plastic Pollution Reduction Month" visit RE Sources for Sustainable Communities event series link.

Hop into action this April and reduce your plastic!
Bag Monster photo courtesy of Joe Dunko, AS Review

Friday, April 8, 2011

April is Plastic Pollution Reduction Month!

April is Plastic Pollution Reduction Month and we're off and running! The Bag It Bellingham effort kick-off on April 1st was a huge success! Western's Performing Arts Center filled up the entire center section with nearly 200 people and everyone received one of our Chico Bags, provided by Sierra Club and screen printing donated by Bellingham Screen Printing!

Thank you to our movie sponsors, Associated Students Environmental Center, WWU Office of Sustainability, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Community Food Co-op and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. We couldn't have had such an event without their support! Additional thanks to Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association for joining the other tablers with their incredible lobby display. We generated 135 signatures for our petition to support our city's proposed bag ordinance and signed up 73 volunteers, 30 people who want to schedule a "Bag It" movie screening and 36 letter writers!

We ended the night with a speech from Mayor Dan Pike and a presentation of his Mayoral Proclamation declaring April "Plastic Pollution Reduction Month" in the city of Bellingham!

Loads of events going on all month through RE Sources! We are hosting a Plastics Workshop on April 21st and "The Clean Bin Project" movie screening on April 28th, both at the Sustainable Living Center, 7-9pm.

Want to schedule a movie screening or volunteer with Bag It Bellingham, email Jill at jillmw@oz.net. If interested in Bag It Bellingham presenting at your work, church, organization, email Brooks, our Education and Outreach Coordinator at brksanderson@gmail.com. It's a busy month ahead! We look forward to everyone's help in spreading the word. Let's double our Facebook presence from 200 to 400! Visit www.facebook.com/bagitbellingham and 'like' to get updates. Take time to read the proposed ordinance and talk it up with your friends!