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 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 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:

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 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 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 -

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

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

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 If interested in Bag It Bellingham presenting at your work, church, organization, email Brooks, our Education and Outreach Coordinator at 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 and 'like' to get updates. Take time to read the proposed ordinance and talk it up with your friends!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Locals Taking Action

Today, Bag It Bellingham gave a presentation to the City Council on the bag ordinance proposal. People from the community even showed up! Tonight, we have urged citizens to come and share their voice that they would like to see our City Council pass a bag reduction ordinance. The word is starting to spread and many people in our community are in support of this. Make your voice heard by writing to our City Councilmembers now. They need to hear from you:;;;;;;

The Bellingham Herald ran 3 letters to the editor this past week. They were excellent. And if you feel inspired, send them a letter too:

Reusing Plastic Bags Not Good Enough - March 22
Salutes Those Who Carry Reusable Bags - March 26
Lists Reasons to Get Rid of Plastic Bags - March 26

A brilliant article, The Battle of the (Bag) Bans, was featured on March 24 in the online blog called Crosscut.

This week, the Bag Monster made its debut in downtown Bellingham, passing out invitations for the award winning documentary, Bag It for THIS Friday.
The photo album is posted on Facebook.

Western Today posted an article about the film TODAY! Be sure to get in on the action and come to our Bag It film screening and kick off to April as Plastic Pollution Reduction Month. A month worth of events are going on around town all month long. Be sure to check the RE Sources for Sustainable Communities website for details.

Share the Bag It Bellingham Movie Facebook event page with all your friends and even select guest to invite to help spread the word.

Thank you for taking action! The time is now! See you on Friday!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions About Bellingham’s Proposed Ordinance
Regulating Retail Establishments Provision of Single-use Carryout Bags

How are single-use plastic carryout bags harmful to the environment?
1- They are consumed in extremely high volumes (approximately 22 million per year in Bellingham).
2- They are made from non-renewable resources.
3- They are designed to be disposable (rather than reusable) average time used is 12 minutes.
4- Most are down cycled; not recycled.
5- They are a significant and visible component of litter.
6- They remain in the environment as marine, storm drain, and beach pollution.
7- Plastic does not biodegrade it photo-degrades and while smaller; it remains forever.
8- Plastic bags are a significant hazard to marine animals and birds, which often mistake them for food.
9- Beach and ocean clean up is of no use, unless the migration of plastic bags and other plastic pollution which ultimately migrates to our oceans is stopped at the source. The demise of the oceans and its mammals and birds will continue to get worse.

Why are reusable bags better for the environment?
The environmental degradation that is caused by the continued use of single-use carryout plastic bags and paper bags is a very compelling reason to use reusable bags. Reusable bags do not pollute the environment, and help reduce landfill waste because they are used again and again. Therefore, Bellingham residents and taxpayers do not have to pay the clean-up costs and landfill fees related to disposable of single-use carryout bags.

I reuse my plastic bags in many ways; lining trash cans, lunch bags, pet waste, etc. What am I going to do?

You will still have many plastic bags to reuse for these functions because produce bags and other bags used in store are not carryout bags. All bags except carryout bags are exempt from this ordinance.

Why is there a 5 cent charge on recycled paper carryout bags?
This is to encourage the customer to use reusable bags. The cost pass-through also helps reimburse retailers for the costs of providing recycled paper carryout bags to their customers. All of the revenue from the cost pass-through remains with the store.

How do I avoid paying 5 cents for each recycled paper bag?
It’s easy! Remember to bring your own reusable bags to the store. Some stores will even offer you a credit for bringing your own bag!

What is the City of Bellingham’s definition of a reusable bag?
“Reusable bag” means a bag with handles that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and meets all of the following requirements: Is made of cloth or other fabric, machine washable, or made of durable plastic that is at least 2.25 mils thick.

What stores must comply with this ordinance?

All retail establishments are prohibited from providing “single-use plastic carryout bags” to customers at the point of sale. Retail establishments shall provide to a customer at the point of sale a reusable bag or recycled paper bag except for food providers for the purpose of safeguarding public health and safety during the transportation of hot prepared take-out foods and prepared liquids intended for consumption away from the Food Provider's premises.

Which stores will charge for single-use paper bags?
All stores that carry the recycled paper carryout bags typically found in grocery stores, convenience stores, mini-marts, liquor stores and pharmacies.

Are there any exceptions to this regulation? YES.
The Single-use Carryout Bag Ordinance does NOT prohibit the distribution of plastic “produce bags” such as those distributed within a grocery store for bagging produce or meat. Stores are required to provide customers participating in Washington State’s low-income food assistance program, Washington’s Special Supplemental Food program for Women, Infants and Children and customers participating in Medicaid with a reusable bag or recycled paper bag at no cost at point of sale. Because of federal and privacy regulations, Pharmacy prescription bags have no pass-through cost. There is also a public health and safety exemption for restaurants and other food providers, allowing them to provide single-use plastic bags for the transportation of prepared take-out food and liquids. Distribution of all single-use carryout bags; plastic, bioplastic or paper is prohibited at Farmers’ Markets. The farmers’ markets are allowed the use of plastic produce bags and small paper bags for mushrooms (free of charge)

What is the City of Bellingham’s definition of a recycled paper carryout bag?

1. Except as provided in subsection(2), the paper carryout bag contains an average of 40 percent postconsumer recycled materials.
2. An eight pound or smaller recycled paper bag shall contain an average of 20 percent postconsumer recycled material.
3. The paper carryout bag is accepted for recycling in curbside programs in a majority of households that have access to curbside recycling programs in the City. (Take your plastic bags and other plastic film to your grocer or to the downtown recyling center for recyling. Currently residential curbside recycling for plasic bags and film is not available.)
4. The paper carryout bag is capable of comTesting and Material (ASTM) Standard Specification for Compostable Plastics D6400, as published in September 2004.
5. Printed on the paper carryout bag is the percentage of postconsumer content.

What main sources did you cite in your ordinance?
Master Environmental Assessment on Single Use and Reusable Bags, ICF
International. March 2010

International Coastal Clean Up 2009 Report.

Fighting the Tide of Plastic Bags in A World Awash with Waste July 2008

Seattle’s Alternatives to Disposable Shopping Bags and Food Service Items Report. Prepared for Seattle Public Utilities. January 2008

Californians Against Waste – a letter sent in response to questions about economic factors.

Complied by Bag It Bellingham 3/04/2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bellingham is Asked to Bag It!

We launched a local effort to reduce single-use bags in Bellingham just over a week ago and now our town is being asked to bag it! First we had an article in our local paper, Bellingham Herald which generated 345 online comments, mostly a debate between reactionary thoughts to this idea and people saying get over it, it's about time. Yesterday, the Herald ran a letter to the editor that represented the ordinance as a tax, stating it as a fact. The Herald apologized online for mistakenly running this letter, and made a correction in today's paper, stating their mistake and thankfully stated that the 5 cents is a cost of the bag that is paid to the retailer when you want a bag. It's evident that our education and outreach plan will be helpful. Bag It Bellingham is launching this effort in partnership with WWU Associated Students Environmental Center with bringing the award winning documentary "Bag It" to the WWU Performing Arts Center on Friday, April 1st, 7 pm.

Today, film posters are going up around the city and soon people in bag monster costumes will pass out invites around town.

Help spread the word, we have 600+ seats to fill at the theater! It will be a fun evening of awareness raising and action generation!

If you are on facebook, please share this facebook event with your friends:

Below is of the last comments posted in response to the Herald article...from "Kimi Kim":

"For those who are saying that this proposal would hurt our local economy, or that it is a tree hugger proposal, try reading the proposal first! This proposal, as is, is a wonderful way to help our local economy by helping businesses save money (especially since food prices are ridiculously high!). They would be saving money by not having to buy SINGLE USE plastic grocery bags (which costs plenty for grocery stores), they would be making money when customers use paper bags (a fee that would stay in the company and not go anywhere else). Further more, if customers do not want to spend the nickel under their couch, they can ask for a cardboard box that grocery store have from unpacking their wine, produce, drinks, etc. The Market and the Co-op does it and it save the city money by not having to recycle as many cardboard boxes. Also by using the cardboard boxes right after the items are unpacked, less energy is used to recycle it.

This proposal helps our local economy by helping our local businesses!!!!

for those who are anti-"tree hugger" educate yourself on this proposal through an economical stand-point!!!!

For those who are tree huggers, think about all of the energy that is spent in the process of creating single use plastic bags and the end result of that single use plastic bag.

Everyone, think "Why is single use plastic bags named "Single use"?"

Federal, state and local economy is going through budget cuts!!!!

From a local standpoint, this proposal will be great because it will NOT cut local jobs, the city will have to deal with less waste (whether it is single use plastic bags in privet homes or cardboard boxes if grocery store are resourceful), and we will help support our local businesses stay in business!


Oh and by the way, Bellingham is falling behind in it's reputation for a green city! Let bring that back!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bag It Bellingham Launches TODAY!

Bag It Bellingham launches today with our
HOT OFF THE PRESS news! Read in full here!

With the support of city residents forming Bag It Bellingham, a local effort to reduce single-use bags, City Councilmember Seth Fleetwood has introduced an ordinance for public consideration that will reduce plastic pollution by regulating single-use carryout bags in Bellingham. This proposed ordinance will be the first in Washington State to not only prohibit single-use plastic carryout bags but also incentivize use of reusable bags by requiring a customer to pay 5 cents for a recycled paper bag, if they fail to bring a reusable bag.
"The object is to kick start behavioral change. We live in a profoundly wasteful culture with horrendous environmental implications and corresponding public costs. It's time to lead by example,"
said Seth Fleetwood.
"This is the right thing to do. It is our hope that more cities around the country will implement similar legislation."
The ordinance will become effective 180 days after enactment.

Numerous other jurisdictions around the nation and the world have passed bag bills. “The time is now for Bellingham, a nationally recognized leader in outdoor stewardship and sustainability, to join this effort,” said Jill MacIntyre Witt, a Bag It Bellingham coordinator. “Action at the city level will help our state to pass similar legislation that is currently being considered.

Joe Gilliam, President of the Northwest Grocery Association confirms, “Grocers around the state have been seeking a statewide policy on single-use plastic bags to address the litter associated with plastic bags and the effect on consumers and the price of groceries if they are removed from retail check stands. The core principles of the draft ordinance bring forward some very promising ideas that, with some more refining, could work in the long run and be good for the community of Bellingham. The Northwest Grocery Association applauds the efforts of Bag It Bellingham and the concept they are putting forth today.

Bag It Bellingham organizers have been in conversations with local retailers. Community Food Co-op and Village Books have already expressed their support. Village Books took initiative several years ago to reduced plastic pollution by only offering paper and reusable bags to their customers. “We dropped plastic bags several years ago and have had very few customer complaints. We think Bellingham is ready for this ordinance and fully support it,” said owner, Chuck Robinson. Dialog with grocery associations, Washington Food Industry Association and Northwest Grocery Association, is underway to seek their suggestions as well as from the Bellingham Downtown Partnership and The Food Bank.

We are pleased that local retailers are stepping forward with support for this draft legislation as are local chapters of Sierra Club, People for Puget Sound, Environment Washington, and Surfrider Foundation and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities,” said Bag It Bellingham Coordinator, Brooks Anderson. “Such an ordinance in Bellingham will help reduce the estimated 22 million plastic bags our city residents use annually.

Bag It Bellingham is organizing educational and outreach events in the community to help Bellingham citizens understand the effects single-use bags have on the environment. Western Washington University (WWU), known for its environmental advocacy, has also begun the process to eliminate single-use plastic bags. In partnership with their Office of Sustainability and Zero Waste Initiative, the bookstore purchased 10,000 reusable bags last fall to give to each student who bought $100 worth of books.

Bag It Bellingham, in partnership with WWU’s AS Environmental Center, will host a premiere community screening of the award winning film Bag It. The screening is scheduled for April 1 at WWU’s Performing Arts Center at 7 pm. Tickets are available in advance at the Community Food Co-op, Village Books and Western’s Performing Arts Center Ticket Office. Adults $7, Students, Seniors and Kids $3. Bag It Bellingham and RE Sources also declare April Plastic Pollution Reduction Month. RE Sources has scheduled several educational events that are open to the public including: workshops, film, recycled art and trash fashion show.

To learn more and show your support for this citywide effort can find Bag It Bellingham on Facebook. Updates will also be posted at If you have questions, suggestions, or would like to schedule an education/outreach presentation for your school, church, business or organization, contact Brooks Anderson at