Plastic bag ban. First bags, then what?

Kyle Huizinga, Staff writer

McMinnville has recently created a new city ordinance, which states businesses can no longer provide single-use plastic grocery bags. Many people within the McMinnville community have different opinions on this ordinance. Below I have shown some of the comments of those opposing the bag ban listed on various articles.

“Great, now instead of reusing a product and giving it new life, I will have to go buy a brand new item just to put my trash in to throw it away! The entire intent of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is defeated by this ban!”

“My personal problem with this plastic ban is that plastic is so much more functional. I can remember too many paper bags breaking through the bottom when getting wet. Banning the bags to solve the plastic problem is insignificant but it is a feel good therapy for those feeling the power.”

“This was all about presenting an image for our city council. This ban won’t make a drop in the bucket for the environment in McMinnville. The council likes to be thought of as on the cutting edge of progressive thinking. It is an ego trip for them and nothing more. They do these things because they feel the power.”

These responses are genuinely astonishing. If the people who were leaving these comments correctly used bags, there would be no need for a bag ban.

Plastic bags end up in the waterways, landfills and on the streets. The oceans are filled with plastics, and more marine life is put at risk each year as we dump more and more waste in the ocean. Our consumption and use values are geared toward single-use products, which place a substantial burden on our local environment.

Plastic bags end up in waterways and the ocean of the Pacific Northwest. These bags then lead to the death of salmon, which then affect salmon fisheries in the Pacific Northwest. The pollution of single-use plastics is leading to the destruction of one of Oregon’s most important and historic industries. Off-coast salmon fishing makes up a $144 million industry according to the Oregon State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The local landfill in McMinnville is already having space issues, and the reduction of waste from community members needs to be taken seriously. Plastic bags can’t be recycled, and they are considered too low a grade of plastic, which means they end up taking precious space within the landfill.

If the economic, social, and environmental reasonings are for the ban, why is there so much opposition? To support the bag ban means admitting that your actions directly affect the world around you.

It’s the fear of change that’s lighting the fire in those uncomfortable. It has no connection with the lack of trash bags or putting money in the pockets of businesses but it’s the knowledge with this one change that more changes may come. This fear speaks to a more substantial sociological issue of having to face the impact we’re creating on our environment. As a culture, we’re past the point where waiting for people to feel comfortable with change is an acceptable response.

The truth is, the ban is small and could be viewed as an insignificant environmental change within the community, but its importance is not found within the action of banning single-use bags. It’s seen as the symbolic representation of admitting that we need to do something to change our current practices. Plastic bags are such a small mechanism that can have such a massive impact on the environmental health of our community. It’s our duty as conscious citizens to support the bag ban.