It appears that all of the controversy surrounding the Newport City Council’s recent ban on single-use plastic bags could have been avoided. A statewide ban now seems to be a certainty.
In April, the Oregon House voted 42 to 18 in support of House Bill 2509 to ban single-use plastic shopping bags. On Tuesday of this week, the Oregon Senate followed suit, passing HB 2509 on a 17 to 12 vote. It is now awaiting the signature of Gov. Kate Brown to become state law, and Brown has already indicated her support of the bill.
Newport’s ban was set to take effect July 1. Based on feedback we have heard at the News-Times, the biggest objection to the Newport ban wasn’t the ban itself, but rather the fact that five of the seven Newport City Council members chose to overturn a previous vote by Newport residents. In the May 2013 election, a similar bag ban was shot down by voters, so many people felt Newport voters should have again been asked to make the decision, not the Newport City Council. While we believe the bag ban has merit, we, too, felt the city council’s actions were inappropriate in this case.
That said, 16 Oregon cities already have local laws banning single-use plastic bags, and locally, both Lincoln City and Yachats had discussed the idea but were waiting to see whether or not the state would take action on the matter. In reality, it was only a matter of time before the movement spread statewide. Once signed by the governor, this new legislation will become law, and as such, it means it will be time to set our squabbles aside and get used to the new reality.
It really comes down to the need to just wrap our brains around a new way of doing things. Most of us don’t really give a thought to popping into a store to pick up groceries or other items, then walking out with our purchases in one or more plastic bags. Moving forward, if we don’t plan ahead, we’ll be walking out of the store with our arms cradling those purchases — it could make getting back into the car on a windy, rainy day rather interesting. But there are a several alternatives to plastic bags, and as time moves on, we likely won’t give much thought to the way things used to be.
Yes, it might mean some inconvenience for us, at least initially, but in the long run, we believe our state does stand to benefit, and especially here on the coast where airborne plastic bags all too often find their way into the Pacific Ocean. Oregon has been a trendsetter in the past when it comes to environmentally friendly practices, and this is but the latest step in that same direction. Regardless of any difference our statewide efforts might make on a national scale or around the globe, we believe it can and will make a difference in our state, our county and the cities where we live. And that, we feel, is a good place to start.