Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation
Manzanita became the first city on the Oregon Coast to ban single-use plastic carryout bags earlier this month, an attempt to reduce plastic debris along the beach.
The ordinance was passed by unanimous vote of the City Council and will take effect Nov. 5.
Manzanita, a city of 725 residents just south of Cannon Beach, joins Oregon cities such as Ashland, Corvallis and Portland in eliminating plastic bags.
The effort started about a year ago after a discussion between Michael Maginnis, a board member of the local recycling center CARTM, and Jan Behrs, a new resident who said she was “shocked” at the amount of plastic debris she saw on Manzanita’s beach.
A small group decided to draft a petition to gauge residents’ and visitors’ interest in a ban and kicked off signature-gathering with a showing of an environmental awareness movie about plastic called “Bag It.” About 40 people attended the movie and signed the petition that night, Behrs said.
Committee members also surveyed the city’s businesses on the effect a ban would have, and found most merchants already used paper bags and were willing to encourage customers to bring their own.
“It takes a bit of self-training to get into the habit of using your own bags, emptying them, then putting them back in the car,” Behrs said. “But, really, what’s worth more? A few minutes’ convenience, or the life of the planet?”
According to a study by the University of Georgia, 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the oceans every year.
With the help of Megan Ponder, a Nehalem resident who worked for Portland on sustainability policy, the group drafted an ordinance with language reflecting that of other Oregon bag ordinances, in the hopes of someday establishing a statewide ban.
The small group that drafted the ordinance hopes other coastal cities will follow suit and join the effort to reduce plastic pollution filling the ocean, marring beaches and killing wildlife, Behrs said.
City Council President Linda Kozlowski supported the ordinance.
“The fact that a group of citizens took the initiative to do their homework and come to the council with a well-thought-out strategy to end the use of single-use plastic bags was awe-inspiring,” Kozlowski said in a statement. “I am so very proud of our community — especially our business community — for stepping up and supporting this ban.”