BEND, Ore. - Citizens, advocates and local businesses came together Wednesday to again call on the Bend City Council to ban plastic bags, but the plea at its meeting prompted no response or action.
The event, hosted by citizen-based environmental advocacy organization Environment Oregon, is part of their effort to keep plastic bags out of the Pacific and Oregon waterways by banning the bag.
"Bend prides itself on being an environmentally friendly city, so it's no surprise over 400 citizens have signed petitions and dozens of businesses are calling for action," said Alasdair Muir Neilson, preservation intern with Environment Oregon and Bend campaign organizer. "By banning plastic checkout bags, city councilors will lead Central Oregon in tackling this enormous problem for our waterways and oceans."
Right now, there are 100 million tons of trash in the Pacific Ocean. In some places, plastic outweighs plankton 6-to-1. Plastic pollution harms thousands of sea birds and marine animals, like sea turtles, every year. Too much of this trash comes from plastic bags. Banning single-use plastic bags in Bend will help protect wildlife in the Deschutes and Pacific, the groups say.
"The pride Central Oregonians take in our stunning natural environment should be reflected in our community's policies," said Gretchen Valido, chair of Juniper Group chapter of the Sierra Club. "Out of sight, out of mind doesn't cut it anymore-we know better. Banning the single use plastic bag will mark Bend as a city showing leadership as it looks to a more sustainable future."
A spokesperson from local business Whole Foods market, also spoke about their support of seeing Bend go plastic-bag free. World famous surfer and Bend resident, Gerry Lopez , has also signed on in support of the plastic bag ban, as has local well-known kayaker Laurel Brauns.
The "Bag Monster," the mascot of Environment Oregon's Keep Plastic Out of the Pacific campaign, also attended . The creature is covered in more than 400 plastic bags—the average number a person uses in one year. Collectively, Oregonians use more than 1 billion bags annually.
So far, more than 49 businesses , including Patagonia , are signed on in support of a city bag ban, while more than 400 citizens have signed petitions. Other local supporters include the Juniper Group chapter of the Sierra Club and world famous climber and Bend resident, Ben Moon .
"The city's motto is a great one: ‘It's not easy being green…unless you're in Bend,'" said Neilson. "Ridding the city of these plastic bags will help protect the beautiful Central Oregon environment so many local residents and visitors alike love about Bend."
Neilson made his pitch to city councilors during the visitors' section of Wednesday night's council meeting, but no councilor responded.