ASHLAND, OR – A campaign to protect the Pacific Ocean and its wildlife by banning plastic bags from Ashland kicks off today with a free screening of the film ‘Bag It,’ hosted by the citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization Environment Oregon.
“Ashland has the chance to be a leader in stopping plastic pollution by becoming the first city in Southern Oregon to ban the bag,” said Nina Gillespie, Preservation Intern with Environment Oregon and Ashland campaign organizer. “But we need city councilors to take action and answer the call of hundreds of Ashlanders and the nearly 100 local businesses who want to protect our rivers and oceans.”
Citizens of Ashland are invited to the Ashland Art Center tonight to see the film—which won the Ashland Independent Film Festival Audience Choice Award in 2010—and learn more about the tragic effects plastic bag pollution has had on the Pacific and its wildlife. Right now, there are 100 million tons of trash in the Pacific Ocean. In some places, plastic outweighs plankton 6-to-1. Plastic pollution harms thousands of sea birds and marine animals, like sea turtles, every year. Too much of this trash comes from plastic bags.
Oregonians use more than 1 billion plastic bags each year. Too many of them work their way through Oregon’s waterways, like the Rogue River, eventually leading to the Pacific Ocean. Banning single-use plastic bags in Ashland will help protect wildlife in both the Rogue and Pacific.
“The Rogue River is an invaluable resource for Southern Oregon and Ashland,” said Chris Korbulic, famous expedition kayaker and Ashlander. “Tourist or otherwise, we as its stewards have the responsibility to protect and keep it clean.”
The “Bag Monster,” the now well-known mascot for Environment Oregon’s Keep Plastic Out of the Pacific campaign, will attend the event covered in the average number of bags one person uses in a year—more than 400.
Rogue Riverkeeper, Jackson County Master Recyclers, nearly 100 businesses, as well as the Northwest Grocery Association have all joined Environment Oregon to ban the bag in Ashland. More than 500 citizens have also signed petitions in support of the ban. Environment Oregon, a statewide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization represents hundreds of Ashland citizens.
Passing a ban would make Ashland the fourth city in Oregon to enact the policy and the first in Southern Oregon.
Campaign supporters are planning to attend a public forum at the next council meeting tomorrow to comment on the issue.