In the near future, the Portland City Council will be voting on the recommendation of its Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee to ban polystyrene containers. I urge you to contact your city councilor and ask them to support this recommendation.

On May 21, the Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee will be meeting to decide whether to recommend that the City Council levy a fee on plastic shopping bags. I urge you to contact members David Marshall, Kevin Donoghue, Jon Hinck and Cheryl Leeman to express your support of this proposed ordinance.

While many people think of plastic bags as being free, they actually cost taxpayers millions of dollars every year. They clog storm drains, jam recycling machines and choke wildlife, and they don’t ever break down in landfills.

The purpose of the plastic bag fee is not to increase shopping costs, but rather to encourage customers to bring their own bags. Some stores (Whole Foods and Rosemont Market) are actually giving a credit to those who do so.

Lest anyone think that Portland is in the forefront of this movement, the following countries have already instituted bans on plastic bags: South Africa, Italy, Australia, India, Somalia, Botswana, Uganda, Kenya, Japan, Turkey, Zanzibar, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, South Korea, Singapore, Bhutan, Malta, China, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

And well over 100 U.S. cities have instituted either an outright plastic bag ban or a fee on them.

It is short-sighted to view this only as an economic issue; it is far more than that – it is a matter of worldwide concern. The world’s biggest garbage dump is a floating one of plastic in the Pacific Ocean that is estimated to be twice the size of the continental USA. Let’s act now in the interest of future generations!

Sally Trice

Portland