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.