Thanks Salem Weekly for adding your voice to the worldwide movement banning plastic bags! And thanks to Mr. Chinburg’s Seventh Graders at Adams Elementary for their terrific presentation to Council on April 28. They gave several excellent reasons for banning bags. Although we can’t see them, deadly chemical compounds are leaching from plastic into our soil, water and air.

Plastic bags put future generations at risk. That’s why Portland, Corvallis, Eugene and Ashland have banned them. So far Salem Council’s intentions are unknown.

There’s no denying that plastic bags are choking the life out of us. The average Oregon family brings home about 500 bags a year. A recent letter to the Salem Weekly editor says “no problem” and brags about putting “disposable” diapers in plastic bags and then in the trash. It takes decades for these bags and diapers to degrade.

On average there are about 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile of ocean. Apparently forgetting there are currents and winds the letter to the Salem Weekly says Oregon beaches “should be covered” with plastic. Another writer says Salem’s bags can’t end up in the ocean because our garbage goes to Brooks and gets burned. Apparently they don’t know that not all of our garbage is burned and it is not safe to burn plastic.

Seventh Graders Solber Martinez, Tony Morales and Anthony Lopez know better and showed Council pictures from the web of floating masses of plastic in the Pacific.These “gyres” are huge. The Pacific Gyre alone is the size of Texas and 20 feet thick. Additional tons of plastic can be seen washed ashore on beaches in all latitudes.

Unfortunately Council minutes reveal nothing about their reaction to the student’s presentation. By now Council could have taken the initiative and joined dozens of cities that approved bag bans. On behalf of those who come after us, we adults can pay it forward for these students and all future generations by urging Council to act.

No matter where you live, please email the City Council and ask them to follow through with a ban on plastic bags ( Take a moment to email, call or text Mayor Anna Peterson (503-399-6159) ask for her leadership on this crisis.

Banning plastic bags is a major campaign for Rikki Sequin and the good folks at Environment Oregon, here’s their number 503-231-1986.

We can’t let the Salem City Council wait for these students to return as Eighth Graders. Please lend a hand.


Richard Reid is a founding member of Salem CityWatch and state chair of Oregon Communities for a Voice in Annexations