Mother Earth Living

Seattle's 20-Cent Green Fee

Seattle city council experiences back lash for 20-cent bag fee proposal
By Stephanie Nelson
September 2008 Web
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In late July of this year, Mayor Greg Nickels of Seattle and City Council President Richard Conlin proposed a 20-cent bag fee for those requesting plastic or paper bags.

Council members aim to improve Seattle's shopping habits by reducing and eventually eliminating dependency on plastic and paper bags. Their hopes are that using reusable bags will become a natural behavior similar to recycling. Although the "green fee" will not take effect until January 2009, the proposal has sparked a huge debate among Seattle citizens.

Special interest groups such as the American Chemistry Council and the Washington Food Industry are counteracting the city's green endeavors. These companies and various Seattle residents have taken to the streets with petitions, seeking signatures to reverse the proposal. They would need a little more than 14,000 valid names and signatures before the August 2009 vote.

Large chain grocery stores will still implement the 5-cent credit for customers with reusable bags. In attempts to further its proposal, the city plans to give each household at least one free reusable bag. Low-income residents will receive additional bags on behalf of the city.

Seattle has joined the green ranks of other U.S. cities that have turned to reusable products. The city is one of the first to discourage the use and production of plastic bags through the fee. The program has been greatly influenced by a similar program in Ireland that helped reduce paper and plastic bag consumption by 90 percent, according to Seattle officials. 

More about reusable bags and utensils

• Find out which Asian country has joined the plan to ban!

• These adorable To-Go Ware utensils are made from recycled plastic bags.

• Choose a reusable bag that meets your needs.

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