Unalaska Resident Lobbying For Plastic Bag Ban

Tuesday, May 07 2013

Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A petition asking the city council to ban retailers from distributing single-use plastic bags is making the rounds in Unalaska.

The text of the petition is a single sentence: “Pass an ordinance to eliminate the use of plastic bags by Unalaska stores.”

Petition sponsor Jamie Stippel says she deliberately left it wide-open.

“I’m not asking to write the ordinance, I’m not asking for anything other than to just show the council that there is a large group of people that want to see this happen,” Stippel says. “And that’s all it is.”

Stippel has an arsenal of reasons why the city should consider banning plastic bags, but the one that she says Unalaskans should find most compelling is that plastic bags take a long time to break down, and when they do, they don’t biodegrade, they just break into smaller and smaller pieces, which can then be eaten by animals.

“This is our community and we’re a small community that really does rely on the marine ecosystem,” Stippel says. “We have to protect that not only for future health, but for our economy. So that’s why I don’t think it should be just left up to us individually.”

The way Stippel sees it, if people have a choice, they’ll always choose convenience, so getting people to remember their reusable bags requires more than awareness -- it requires legislation.

“People talk about choice, they want choice, they want choice,” Stippel says. “Well, people have proven over and over again that they’re not choosing responsibly, if you will.”

Plastic bag bans having inflamed public sentiment almost everywhere they’ve been discussed, and Unalaska is no exception. After posting about the petition on Facebook, Stippel says she got some impassioned feedback from people who oppose a ban.

“I don't want to start an argument, I don’t want it to be a heated debate. All I’m looking for is for the council to actually look at it.”

Whether that happens remains to be seen. Stippel is still gathering signatures -- the old-fashioned way, and online, where about 60 people have added their support. She says when she has enough she’ll take the issue to council, probably in the next month or so.

James Mason on Thursday, May 09 2013:

"- No advertising, promotion, recruiting, campaigning, lobbying, soliciting or proselytizing."
Shane-Shirley Smith, who posted below, represents a company which sells reusable bags. It appears he/she is promoting the company's product on the KUCB website.

James Mason on Thursday, May 09 2013:

Plastic bags from the retailers are put to good use in many different ways. If that supply disappears then we'll buying bags from the same stores that presently give them to us. The number of bags consumed by the community will diminish, but not to zero. This is a trendy idea that will go away when the next fad appears.

Old Cynical Man on Wednesday, May 08 2013:

So - will this really reduce plastic bags here? People use purchased plastic bags for garbage cans inside the house, for sandwiches, for storage, for cell phone protection. I realize these flimsy grocery bags are more abundant, yet in my mind we need a Littering ban - if you are caught littering say $1000 fine - that would stop all plastic bags, hard plastic containers, much of the plastic and harmful garbage that may enter the "marine ecosystem"

Stephanie Joyce on Tuesday, May 07 2013:

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