On Wednesday, August 19, the voters of Seattle Washington had the unique opportunity to vote on a referendum to institute a $0.20 charge per plastic bag used at grocery and drug stores. Unfortunately, the referendum was defeated by 53%.

The group leading the charge against the referendum is The Progressive Bag Affiliates, a subsidiary of the American Chemistry Council. The ACC spent $1.4 million dollars to defeat the $0.20 charge. According to the Associated Press "this is the largest contribution to a local ballot measure in recent history. Supporters raised about $93,000."  Reminds me a little of Phillip Morris and Prop 86 back in 2006.

Another responsible party for this pro-plastic bag movement is an organization called www.savetheplasticbag.com.  This website has a grass roots appearance and is run mainly by Stephen Joseph, an attorney from San Francisco whose credentials include removing graffiti and banning trans fats. And after reading his resume, you almost want to like the guy. That is until he mentions that he was approached by the plastic manufacturing companies including Elkay Plastics Co. and Grand Packaging to spearhead this "cause." Joseph initially declined. But then after reading one article in the London Times, and "researching on the internet" he reconsidered. Sighting on his website that  "He changed his mind and agreed to represent the industry and concerned citizens to get the truth out to the public. He is concerned that activists have become obsessed with plastic bags and are failing to disclose inconvenient environmental truths to the public and politicians. Spreading environmental misinformation is simply wrong."

Indeed. I am sure that he isn't taking a salary from the plastic manufacturing companies. No, he's being compensated by warm fuzzy feelings.

If you were to go to www.savetheplasticbag.com you would see their logo of a heart on plastic bag and find that their coalition... "was formed in June 2008. It is a group of businesses and citizens who are concerned about the environmental misinformation being spread in the anti-plastic bag campaign."

The site goes on to explain how plastic isn't really that bad for the environment and even tries to debunk the famous picture of a turtle with a plastic bag in its mouth sighting that "We don't know where the photograph came from. We can't tell if the turtle is eating a plastic bag or something else. We can't even tell whether the photograph is authentic." And that "Plastic grocery bags were introduced thirty years ago. If plastic bags are such a huge problem for marine mammals and seabirds as the anti-plastic bag activists maintain, then there would be thousands of photographs by now."

Well, plastic bags may be thirty years old but the pedestrian use of the internet is only about 12 years old. Furthermore, if one were to Google "plastic bag marine life" you would find thousands of sad pictures. Like this one.

The reason that I am writing this entry is not because I want to bash Save The Plastic Bag or Stephen Joseph. I am writing it to raise awareness about where you get your information when making your decision at the ballots. And that many times, (we have seen it all through history and are seeing it right now in Washington) groups that appear to have the interest of the tax payer are actually large companies that are bankrolling the charge of their own bottom line. Granted, I work for a reusable dry-cleaning bag company and referendums like the one in Seattle will help The Green Garmento's bottom line. However, TGG got into business because The President and the CEO are passionate about waste reduction. And rest assured, no one at TGG is flying in private jets or getting six figure bonuses. Okay well, we do have "Food Friday" when TGG buys lunch for all 3 of us at the office.

As stated in the title; change is hard. I watch my pennies like everyone else and I don't love the idea of paying for something that used to be free, But once you put a value on something, you treat it better and you reuse it. You are a lot less likely to throw it in the trash or "forget" your re-usable bags.

Change is hard when convenience justifies our actions and you feel as if "I'm just one person." It's easy to avoid doing what's right when we don't see the immediate gratification of our do-gooder deeds. I am with you, I understand. I am not super eco-green girl who lives off the grid. I am a modern American who is willing to make the sacrifice of $0.20 to help our environment.

Change is hard. But change is necessary.

Now for the plug: Get your FREE Green Garmento by going to: http://www.thegreengarmento.com/BASE/SS/get-free-bags/

 

Sources:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hZSdKkN-yEvs1cbmyblt2aCcvHGgD9A66V6G0

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/13/MNG7FL4KQO1.DTL

http://i239.photobucket.com/albums/ff80/talkinitback/seallion-1.jpg

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3508263.ece

http://www.savetheplasticbag.com/