Success! Seattle Votes To Ban Plastic Bags

Over the past few weeks, more than 6,900 Care2 members signed a petition urging Seattle to pass a law banning the use of plastic shopping bags, which account for a vast amount of metropolitan litter and take hundreds of years to degrade.

And all those signatures finally paid off.

On Monday, the City Council of Seattle became the latest U.S. city to approve a ban on single use plastic shopping bags.  The unanimous vote approved an ordinance that bans plastic bags at retail checkout stands and requires retail establishments to collect a pass-through charge from customers requesting paper carryout bags.

“Under the new ordinance, retail establishments are prohibited from providing single-use plastic carryout bags, and are required to collect a pass-through charge of not less than five-cents for each recyclable paper carryout bag provided to customers,” said Council President Richard Conlin. ”There are exemptions for people receiving food assistance and for food banks.  Smaller bags and bags used inside the stores to package bulk items are exempt.”

Those who may be disappointed to hear that forgetting their reusable bags could add to their grocery bill should remember that while they may be complimentary, paper and plastic bags have never really been free.

“The cost of those bags are included in every item that a customer purchases. Reusable bags are readily available as a substitute for disposable bags, and a ban on plastic bags and a modest charge for paper bags (which goes to the store, not the City) will fairly allocate costs and environmental responsibilities” said Conlin. “This simple and effective step towards waste reduction will make a difference to marine life and to Seattle’s solid waste disposal costs. It is a win-win for consumers, stores, and the environment.”

This is the second time Seattle has passed an ordinance encouraging the use of reusable bags. Unfortunately, the complexity of the ordinance made it easy for the plastics industry to pick it apart, and they spent $1.4 million collecting signatures on a referendum and successfully campaigning to get the ordinance repealed.

Thanks to all the Care2 members who helped Seattle make it a success the second time around!

Related Reading:

Plastic Bags Outlawed In Santa Monica

Ban The Plastic Bag Rap [Video]

Marin County Looking To Ban Plastic Bags

Image Credit: Flickr – velkr0


Ruth R.
Ruth R5 years ago

This is the way to go. This is encouraging. To have the alternative cloth bag at the check out is helpful.

kaye p.
Kaye Porter5 years ago

Fantastic, onward.

Christina G.
Christina G.6 years ago

Wonderful! everyone should be responsible enough to bring their own bags, and everyone should reduce the use of plastic bottles by using their own reusable bottles.

Erica Balk
Erica Balk6 years ago

I support the ban on plastic bags, but it's a hard sell in many areas. Especially because the actual environmental impact isn't that great when compared to say, plastic bottles. The problem with plastic bags is more about litter and danger to marine wildlife than about conserving natural resources and limiting GHG emissions. We need to focus more on that aspect than on how long it takes them to degrade in the landfill to garner support for the movement.

Erin Coz
Erin Cozart6 years ago

Wonderful!!! Now we need to encourage the rest of the cities to do the same!!!! Keep signing petitions!

Bruno Moreira
Bruno Moreira6 years ago

thats good

Susan C.
Susan C6 years ago

Hawaii County (the Big Island of Hawaii, also know as the Volcano and Orchid Island) has also banned plastic bags. The new law will not immediately go into action, but in a year, our islanders will need to bring re-useable bags or use paper when they go shopping. I still worry about plastic garbage bags and how our landfills are full of plastic bags of all types. Plastic bags blow into the ocean and our sea turtles mistake them for jelly fish and attempt to eat them. We need to reduce the use of plastic bags of all types and uses alternative totes instead. In the meantime, we should be recycling them by tying them in knots to prevent the wind from sending them into our ocean.

Michele G.
Past Member 6 years ago

Cool! :)

Sheri P.
Sheri P6 years ago


Sarah Metcalf
Sarah M6 years ago