Update: Who’s behind the proposal to bag the bag fee

August 11, 2008 at 4:20 pm | In Bag fee battle, Environment, West Seattle news | 39 Comments

signbag.jpgWe first told you yesterday about a petition drive to repeal Seattle’s upcoming disposable-bag fee (and foam ban) by referendum, after we encountered a signature-gatherer (toting the sign you see at left) outside West Seattle Thriftway. City law does not require such referenda to be recorded or even reviewed before signature-gathering begins, so we were having some trouble finding out who’s behind it — till two people (thanks to Alcina and Diane) just posted/sent word that the Puget Sound Business Journal reported about an hour ago, it’s the Washington Food Industry, a grocer-advocacy group.

39 Comments

  1. So if I understand this correctly, grocery stores get to essentially charge $0.05 for bags that they currently give away as a cost of business, but their association is saying no thanks to the free money. Maybe Gridlock Greg should have offered them half the tax as a governmental handout to the industry and taken a little less tax for himself to keep his big business grocery friends happy and still fatten his budget.

    Comment by Declining money — 4:58 pm August 11, 2008 #

  2. Makes sense. Could have been any number of people or groups. I’m just glad someone put it together. Where can I sign the petition?

    Comment by wsguy — 4:58 pm August 11, 2008 #

  3. This should be a non-issue. We should be bringing our own bags anyway. Plastic bags cause millions and millions of tons of waste each year in production and also in CO2′s to recycle them. What will our next generation do if we continue this, let alone in five generations?

    I think these people have way too much time on their hands to fight something that is actually bringing up a good issue. We should ALL be bringing our own bags. Period.

    Comment by Alki — 6:01 pm August 11, 2008 #

  4. I agree that we should bring our own bags. It’s a no-brainer. The mayor should get rid of the bags altogether. Outlaw them!! Show us how much these are bad for the universe. Lining the city’s pockets with revenue and not rewarding customers for bringing their own bag is a sad way to go. Education not punishment. The poor checkers are the ones who will have to explain the situation. Stupid pathetic plan. Where can I get a petition for my workplace?

    Comment by angela — 6:32 pm August 11, 2008 #

  5. I was guessing that a (or “the”) grocery stores might be behind it. I figured that West Seattle Thriftway would have kicked the guy out of the lot if they didn’t agree with the petition. Not that they agree with every petition that is presented in front of their store – but it didn’t make sense that they would support the person being there if they didn’t already support the idea behind the petition.

    Comment by JumboJim — 7:28 pm August 11, 2008 #

  6. When plastic bags are outlawed, only outlaws will use plastic bags!
    .
    meh.

    Comment by BobLoblaw — 7:59 pm August 11, 2008 #

  7. I was going to post something, but “Alki” said it perfectly: “I think these people have way too much time on their hands to fight something that is actually bringing up a good issue. We should ALL be bringing our own bags. Period.”

    Comment by ~m. — 8:27 pm August 11, 2008 #

  8. Kudos to the Seattle City Council for passing this ordinance: As many of the posters noted above, because we “should” be bringing our own bags, the government should take steps to encourage–or if necessary, force–us to do so.

    I hope that the City imposes a tax–or an outright ban–on donuts, salami, and cigarettes next, because I “should” not be eating donuts or salami, or smoking cigarettes. After all, big brother knows best!

    Comment by Ginger Rodgers — 9:31 pm August 11, 2008 #

  9. I absolutely agree with everyone that says we should be bringing our own bags. Other places have done it and so can we. Just like the hands free cell phone thing, wearing a seatbelt all time, wearing a bike helmet, etc.. it will take some getting use to. I just recently learned about some of the effects plastic has on the environment. A little inconvenience (that won’t be one after a while) to me today, is well worth the positive effect it’ll have on the world forever. I personally would like to do what ever I can to make sure all the kids and there kids, etc. are able to live in a healthy environment.

    Comment by Stacey — 9:39 pm August 11, 2008 #

  10. I vote Ginger Rodgers for Comment of The Week!!!

    Comment by OP — 9:43 pm August 11, 2008 #

  11. So if bags are such a big deal, why stop at grocery stores? Why not Nordstrom’s, The Gap, Sears, Staples, Macy’s, Borders. How much will a suit bag cost? How about with fancy handles? The ones with ruffley edges? Or nice glossy finishes? Why stop short when you can really make a statement?

    And BTW, why keep giving apartment tennants free rides on recycling????

    Comment by Brandon — 9:55 pm August 11, 2008 #

  12. I love it, well said Ginger!

    Comment by Burton — 10:01 pm August 11, 2008 #

  13. I think that it should be voted on by the citizens and not the city council. Let the people make the decision and not have something forced on us. Also, why not tag ALL stores i.e Macys,Nordys etc. Why should they be exempt!!! Who has money to shop for clothes anymore. We all have to get groceries. Those that want to use their own bags GO FOR IT…leave the rest alone.

    Comment by bj — 10:45 pm August 11, 2008 #

  14. Ginger can eat all the salami and donuts she wants since it will only affect her own health. She can smoke some cigarettes while she’s at it although not around me or other people since it can affect our health!

    Do any of you who are giving kudos to Ginger even care about future generations or the plight of the planet? Are you all truly that selfish? Do whatever you want to harm yourselves during your single lifetime, but please, step aside for those of us who are trying to fix this place for the generations that come after we are long gone.

    Comment by aks — 11:02 pm August 11, 2008 #

  15. Where do I sign. I’m get tire of some of you people trying to tell me how to live my life. How would you like it if we force some of you to cook with lard.

    Comment by MSW — 11:35 pm August 11, 2008 #

  16. Sign me up. This isn’t the biggest issue facing Seattle by a longshot, but it’s good shorthand for a host of other things that are seriously wrong with an increasingly out-of-touch and high-handed Mayor and Council who are long past due for some serious citizen pushback.

    If that has to come in the form of a business-funded astroturf campaign, I can live with that.

    After all, all this does is put it to a vote.

    Comment by Bubbleator — 12:07 am August 12, 2008 #

  17. First, hats’ off to the Grocery Folk for seeing through the bribe (.05-.20 kickback)and getting it together for a referendum that, if passed, will not only save residents of Seattle money at the cash register – but at the hands of the tax man, once the litigation hits’ the fan.

    The WA state constitution has some rather intriguing portions about “equality before the law”, which would seem to address the issues raised by prior posters – why are grocers bags different than those from Gap/Nordstroms/Etc; and why are styro food containers different that styro packing peanuts? A referendum is MUCH cheaper for all concerned that litigation – though I am sure if it does not pass, litigation will follow.

    Those most affected by this eco-arrogant fee/ban ordinance are the most vulnerable and voiceless among us – the low and limited income sorts who already recycle their plastic bags out of necessity as small trash bags, doggy-doo bags, and similar little sanitary niceties. Buying a box of “extra special Glad bags” rather than a pound or two of burger is not a happy choice…

    To those who ask “why shouldn’t we pay for plastic/paper bags” – we already DO. It’s built into the price of every item we buy – what the fee does is ask us to buy the same bag twice.

    An arrogant Mayor and profoundly submissive City Council are in burning need of an electoral or judicial slap upside the head – myself, I hope for the electoral as it’ll be much cheaper.

    And yes, I’ve signed the petition – and am actively encouraging others to do so. Just as with Proposition 1 (Adult Entertainment Ordinance Referendum), it’s at least as much about telling a Mayor and City Council to butt out as it is about the issue at hand…and should the referendum pass, as I expect it to, the world won’t end – it’ll just continue without yet another level of micromangement of citizens lives being added.

    Comment by GC — 12:26 am August 12, 2008 #

  18. I would like to weigh in as a cashier. I hate this law!! I already have to argue with people who think thier entire cart should fit into that one reusable bag they got now you want me to argue with the lady who comes in with the food stamp card who can’t aford the bags. This only pads the pockets of the rich and the city and robs from the poor and forces decisions on cashiers. Reward people who bring bags don’t punish those who can’t or don’t.

    Comment by Amanda — 1:05 am August 12, 2008 #

  19. If the actual goal was to save the planet, yada,yada,yada, just ban the damn things outright. But Greg’s decided to save that planet by lining his pockets. Kinda like his wanting to ban 6 beach fires on Alki to save the planet too. Could it be that his Alki condo friend$$ might have given him a call to say hello? If nothing else, this bag thing will at least provide a source of entertainment.

    Comment by Rick — 2:27 am August 12, 2008 #

  20. Well put GC. Remember to do as done in Greg’s town – “Vote early and vote often”.

    Comment by Rick — 4:08 am August 12, 2008 #

  21. I’ve heard a lot of whining about our rights and the indignity of having to do something that might inconvenience us a bit and even some threats to the current local administration. But, I haven’t heard a lot of alternative solutions to the environmental and cost of using/transporting to landfills. So, here’s my question: what would each of you do to start the process of changing the way we dump garbage – pay for higher gas prices to transport trash to our landfills – begin more stringent protection of the environment. Less whining – more solutions.

    Comment by T. De — 6:55 am August 12, 2008 #

  22. Trader Joe’s sells cloth bags for a $1. I bought 3 of them and now I’m set for years. Why is this so hard for people!??

    Comment by Jason — 8:24 am August 12, 2008 #

  23. “I’m get tire of some of you people trying to tell me how to live my life. How would you like it if we force some of you to cook with lard.”

    BWAAHAHAHA!! Equating re-usable grocery bags to cooking with lard. What?? What an idiot. Guess what, morons? We already pay for those plastic bags. The stores buy them and pass the cost on to us. The only thing keeping everyone from using their own bags is laziness. And guess what’s used to manufacture those plastic bags. That’s right: OIL.

    Comment by coffee geek — 8:51 am August 12, 2008 #

  24. Well said CG and Ginger Rogers. I love this as a distraction from the actual issues in this region.

    Comment by worms Roxanne, I'm afraid of worms. — 8:55 am August 12, 2008 #

  25. I am reminded of the time when it cost more for a woman to get her hair cut than a man with equal length hair. This law is biased. Why does it not apply to Home Depot, Shucks, and other traditional male shops? Why only grocery stores, where women are the majority of the customers?
    .
    BTW, if you want to jump on me about the “women doing the majority of the grocery shopping” part of my comment, start another thread. I’m just stating facts to make my point. Not trying to go down the whole “A woman’s place is in the home” road (which is obviously BS anyway).

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — 9:18 am August 12, 2008 #

  26. I do support this bag bill because the bottom line is that what we currently do with waste is unsustainable…. the waste that is created and resources used up cannot last much longer. The Plastics in our oceans and the coming shortfall in petroleum products are major issues.

    I really sympathize with some who complain about this bill however in that is just seems like another fee that the goverment adds. Some progressives are frustrated too that the the things that would seem to make a huge difference in sustainability like a serious transit system do not happen and we get goverment nibbling at the edges instead.

    Plastic bags represent a couple percentage points of the non-recyclable wastestream. If government really wanted to get people to look at their whole waste profile they could make the smallest garbage can service FREE, and raise the rates on those who create alot of waste with the big garbage cans. Monetarily reward those making the right choices and charge those that are really creating the lions share of the waste issues. Carrots and Sticks might be more favorably recieved.

    Again though, I support the bill we had because it was what was offered to deal with the problem… the enemy of the good is the perfect.

    Comment by Bill Reiswig — 9:27 am August 12, 2008 #

  27. If this coucil and highness could spend as much time on macro issues, instead of micro solutions like a bag tax, it might make the city a liitle more reasonable for everyone to live in, rather than the wealthy. A 40% water and sewer hike is expected, as is a 25% garbage increase. on top of a 9% sales tax, where does the average persons income go? Why no hand out condoms to solve the growing crisises?

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/374523_trash12.html

    Comment by Brandon — 9:38 am August 12, 2008 #

  28. This ban also includes paper bags which are totally recyclable and compostable. The fancy bags that Nordstrom uses are coated paper – which is not so recyclable. Sure don’t seee Gridlock Greg going after Nordstrom.

    Comment by margaritaville — 9:42 am August 12, 2008 #

  29. Here is an idea: just put one bag in each of the twelve cupholders in every one of your SUV’s and MiniVan’s and you won’t have to worry about having plastic bags to carry your cigarettes, donuts, salami, potato chips and whatever else purchased on any given trip to the grocery store. What’s the big deal about bringing your own bags? Most people throw them away anyhow.

    Comment by Cheese for the Whine — 10:15 am August 12, 2008 #

  30. I support the bag tax. For god’s sake people respect the planet and bring your own bags. You should have to pay a tax if you want to use one of those plastic bags that clog our waterways, clutter the planet, and tangle up and kill creatures that share this planet.

    Sorry Ginger, this isn’t about big brother. It’s about doing something that makes sense. Your bag use directly impacts me, and the children of this planet.

    Bring your own bag, seriously this is such a non-issue. Do the right thing.

    Comment by BagTaxSupporter — 10:19 am August 12, 2008 #

  31. For all you “Bag Taz” supporters, if its such a great idea, why isn’t it universal then through out the city? why just grocery store, where the poor are forced to go. Why not the high end retailers (any retailer for that matter)? Why not the little bags you put your veggies in? I don’t think the opponents want a weaker planet, its just the mindlessness of all the other violaters out there that deseve more attention (like cigarette butts that wind up in the ocean, which is the biggest polluter of them all). Why has the council trained the city to seperate glass, and now wants to undo this with a less effective mixed paper and glass solution? And again, why are apartment tennants given a free ride on ANY recycling??

    Comment by Brandon — 11:25 am August 12, 2008 #

  32. The issue is not using plastic vs. reusable bags. It is taxation without representation.

    Comment by mary — 2:26 pm August 12, 2008 #

  33. Taxation without representation?? Really? Ever hear of the city council? Ever hear of the mayor? You may not like many/any of them but they *are* your representatives. Unless you don’t vote. If you don’t like what they do in office then don’t vote for them.
    -
    To claim this is taxation w/out representation makes it seem you’re just spouting a cliche w/out thinking about what the phrase actually means.

    Comment by JumboJim — 3:24 pm August 12, 2008 #

  34. Der taken our jeebs!

    Comment by coffee geek — 3:38 pm August 12, 2008 #

  35. Maybe the reason they didn’t apply this “tax” to all stores is because obviously all the environment haters out there would probably poo themselves and we’d have an even bigger problem. Excuse me for the attitude but I can’t believe how insanely lazy and uneducated some people can be.
    -
    As far as blaming this on a cashier like Amanda said: ” I already have to argue with people who think thier entire cart should fit into that one reusable bag they got now you want me to argue with the lady who comes in with the food stamp card who can’t aford the bags.” If this was really progressive country we would take responsibilty for ourselves and bag our own groceries. Amanda, I’m sorry that people are rude to you at work but that should not be the reason we don’t take care of our environment.

    Comment by sbfreih — 3:39 pm August 12, 2008 #

  36. First let me say that I don’t mind the thought of bringing my own reusable bags when I buy groceries. I am waiting for the three I recently ordered on-line. But, this may be just the start folks. I do think this is a pretty sad way for the city to steal money from us. If these plastic bags are so bad for the planet, and I agree that they are, why doesn’t the city just ban their use completely? By ALL stores. It also seems stupid to include paper bags in this. What I mind most about this is that it appears that the Mayor and City Council have contracted the “nickel(s) and dime disease” which the airlines invented and are in the process of fine-tuning. I’m sure that at this minute they are burning the midnight oil (tsk!-tsk!..a waste of energy) at City Hall dreaming up more and more of these outrageous taxes. Be prepared for more of them to appear. How about this one, Mr. Mayor? Charge us…oh, say…$25 a month to park on the street in front of our homes. Watch for it…coming soon to a neighbourhood near you.

    Comment by artsea — 6:05 pm August 12, 2008 #

  37. I think our local government needs to take a stronger stand on sustainability issues and not get pressured by special interest groups, certain businesses, etc… into implementing watered down legislation.

    I agree it’s about time we did something to curb the use of disposable bags, especially plastic, but don’t think a “tax” is the right way to go about it since there is an administration cost associated to run it. I’d rather see us just ban the use of plastic bags as San Francisco has done. And if someone wants a paper bag, the store can choose to charge the customer for it. I also hope that this movement moves beyond grocery and drug stores to include any type of retail establishment. But with this said, I’d rather see this tax get implemented vs. continuing with the status-quo. At least it wakes some people up to these types of issues and gets people to change their habits.

    And if anyone is looking for a good read on sustainability check out Paul Hawken’s Blessed Unrest http://www.blessedunrest.com/.

    Comment by EAO — 10:05 pm August 12, 2008 #

  38. Was Seattle this against recycling when that started? Wow. Are you all from Eastern WA or something? This topic is a no-brainer.

    Comment by JH — 1:02 pm August 13, 2008 #

  39. If Gridlock Greg (how appropo) and his city council lackeys truly wanted to do something worthwhile to save the environment, save the city money, and reduce pollution – they’d convert the city sedan & light truck fleet to electric vehicles (http://mcelectricvehicles.com/) post haste, excepting fire/emt/police/heavy service vehicles.

    Certainly, if Greg is sincere, he can give up his city-funded SUV for a NEV (neighborhood electric vehicle) and help save the planet – unless it’s just *everyone else* who should make sacrifices.

    Folks opposed to the Plastics Theft/Ban aren’t inherently “environment haters” – that’s not required to oppose something that’s basically an elitist, dumb, and deceitful attempt to pry money from consumers pockets and offer a kickback to stores for shutting up and going along.

    Speaking for myself, I’m simply tired of City Hall nannies prating about questionable science as a red herring to moralize and tell me (and other folks) how to live their lives.

    The job of a City isn’t to save the world – it’s to shut up and pick up the garbage, to deliver the appropriate service when 911 is called, keep the roads paved and functional, incarcerate the criminally violent, and spend as little money as possible to do the best job they can of the above tasks.

    All else is icing that more and more of us simply aren’t willing to pay for, or tolerate. More of us, as we age, are coming to the conclusion that we’re not on some teen-aged idealist craze to save the world, we’re here to live our quiet little lives with as little interference as possible.

    Towards that end, this referendum, just the fact that the petitions are out there and being signed at such a rapid rate, is a second shot across the bow of a vastly arrogant mayor and a city council to cowed to vary from his strident march. (The first, of course, was the referendum shooting down the Adult Entertainment Ordinance.)

    GC

    Comment by GC — 2:53 pm August 13, 2008 #

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