Yesterday the Portland City Council voted 5-0 to ban single-use plastic bags. This decision was the result of years of effort particularly by a group called Surfrider. City Council delayed adoption of this ordinance for nearly a year in the hopes that the legislature would adopt a statewide ban. However when that did not happen the city chose to move forward. Three state legislators testified in support of the city ban yesterday saying that it would likely improve the chances of a statewide ban in the future.
We presented photos of plastic bags in the nest---screen saves captured by Krista in Michigan. The ones below of young with bags in their beaks drew some visible cringes by council members. It drove home the point that plastic is a problem affecting birds right here at home. Audubon's testimony focused on the fact that once plastic bags are loose in the environment, they can impact wildlife in our neighborhoods as well as get into our waterways and harm wildlife across the planet. We talked about how plastic is killing albatrosses on Midway Island....how plastic and other microgarbage has been identified as one of the primary impediments to condor reintroduction and recovery...about how seabirds are washing up on the Oregon coast with increasing frequency starving due to plastic in their digestive systems...and about how plastic shows up in nests right here in Portland.
Others testified about other economic and environmental challenges presented by the use of plastic bags. It is estimated that Oregonians use 1.7 billion plastic bags each year---444 bags per person. Less than 5% of these bags are recycles. Yesterday's decision will put a significant dent in that number.
One nestling with a bag in its beak....
...And then the other
Photos sent by Krista Bradford