Sustainability in Seattle: Disposable Bag Fee

Richard Conlin is leading Seattle's effort to eliminate disposable bags. Now the chemical industry is pushing back.

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Read more about sustainability in the YES! Climate Solutions issue.


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Richard Conlin and Seattle mayor Greg Nickels proposed a 20-cent fee on all disposable grocery bags used in their city in April 2008. Their goal was to shrink the mile-long train of garbage the city sends out every day to a distant Oregon landfill. Seattle Public Utilities estimates that the whole city uses 360 million disposable bags every year. Even though the city council approved the fee, the plastics and grocery industries strongly opposes the measure. In 2009 Seattleites get to vote on the measure.

Richard Conlin gave this speech to a Sustainable Bainbridge gathering on October 9, 2008 at . Conlin is the president of the Seattle City Council and a member of YES! Magazine's board of directors.

is an organization of community leaders in Bainbridge Island, WA, YES! Magazine's hometown. The organization aims to protect and strengthen the island community's social, environmental, and economic sustainability for current and future generations.

YES! Online Intern Jon Sayer recorded and produced these videos for YES!

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