Saturday, January 20 , 2018, 7:50 am | Partly Cloudy 46º


Letter to the Editor: City Council Drops the Ball on Bag-Tax Proposal

I am discouraged by the Santa Barbara City Council’s response to the single-use bag proposal on Tuesday’s agenda. I was ambivalent about whether to do a survey or even whether to put the bag-tax initiative on the ballot. What I really wanted was a decision of some sort.

Instead, the matter was tabled until July — and even that “decision” took three motions! Any type of action would have been preferable to that.

There is no denying that single-use bags are detrimental to the environment. I’m not sure why this even has to be explained to members of the council. We in California use 19 billion plastic bags per year. Do we need to be using 19 billion of anything?

Many countries never adopted the single-use bag habit and scratch their heads at those of us in such a disposable-oriented society. Countries, cities and corporations have added fees to their bags and have seen a 90 percent reduction in use almost immediately. This is because people perceive bags to be “free,” but is anything really “free”? In California alone, more than $25 million is spent annually on beach cleanups. Plastic accounts for 74 percent of beach litter. The average cost of a plastic bag to the consumer is 17 cents, so if you pay taxes, you’re already paying for single-use bags.

A couple of points made in Tuesday’s council meeting included the “secondary” uses of single-use bags and the sentiment that people “don’t want to be told what to do.” On the first point, do we really have 19 billion trash cans to line? When people tell me they need the plastic bags for other uses, I suggest that they bring their own bags to the store 75 percent of the time and take plastic bags the other 25 percent.

The second point is a bit more complicated. What happened to pulling together for a common cause? This country has been at its best when citizens united for a common goal. Think back to the “war effort” during World War II and how Americans were asked to sacrifice in many ways and did so happily. We’ve now been in two wars for seven years, and our planet has never been in worse shape, and yet people “don’t want to be told what to do.”

Whatever your beliefs, I hope you find it in your heart to care about the future of our planet. Our oceans are filling up with plastic faster than we can comprehend, and we each have the power to do something about it. Bringing our own bags to the store is but a first step in a journey I hope we take take in unity before it’s too late. I can’t think of a nobler cause than banding together for the “planet effort.”

Kathi Brennan King, director
Choose to Reuse program

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >