Support the Bag Fee Bill; Celebrate Earth Day

Friday, April 22, 2011 - 2:26pm

Today is Earth Day. What a better way to celebrate than by supporting the Montgomery County Bag Bill? Go to Surfrider.com and send a letter in support of the bill. Never has a five cent fee done so much for the environment!

To put this in perspective....
At the beginning of the month, many of us spent the morning pulling trash out of the creek - over 4 dozen 50-gallon bags worth. A large percentage of the trash was bags - cheap plastic bags that grocery stores and other businesses pass out with every transaction. We found bags from Safeway, Giant, CVS as well as generic "have a nice day" bags. They were stuck in the rocks, festooning the bushes, scattered on the banks.

DC instituted a 5 cent bag fee last year and found that plastic bags litter in the Anacostia River was reduced by over 60 percent. Merchants reported passing out 220 million fewer bags (a savings for them too.) People didn't go broke buying bags as some predicted; instead they adjusted and started bringing their own bags, or sticking the items in their purses, briefcases or pockets. It was amazing how a small fee could change a behavior. Some business simply stopped carrying bags all together. There just wasn't a demand for them any more.

WIN WIN WIN

This bill will work in Montgomery County too. Like in DC, this little charge can have a big impact. It will reduce the amount of litter in the environment, thus lowering cleanup costs incurred by the County. Businesses will save money because they don't have to purchase as many bags. Any revenues from the fee will be dedicated to the Water Quality Protection Fund, used for stormwater projects and watershed protection.

SEND AN EMAIL

So please celebrate Earth Day by sending a letter to the Montgomery County Council members. The Alice Ferguson Foundation has a lot of good information if you need talking points. Surfrider.com has set-up a letter page and Council member email addresses can be found on the Montgomery County Council website.   You can sign a petition at Change.com. 

The letters do not have to be long or persuasive. A simple "I support the bag fee. Please vote for this." is fine.

Happy Earth Day to Everyone,
Sarah Morse