Will 2019 be the year that the Washington Legislature takes meaningful action towards addressing the impacts of plastic pollution along our shores and in our communities? The Surfrider Foundation Washington Chapters certainly hope so! Over the last decade, local education and outreach programs, beach cleanup events, and targeted campaigns around plastic reduction ordinances have been a key cornerstone for our chapters. This year offers an amazing opportunity to “scale up” some of these priorities for more impactful solutions across the entire state. Below is a quick rundown from the latest happenings over the first week and a half of the legislative session, as well as some info about what’s on the horizon for the near future, and ways that you can help support by taking action!

Single use plastic carry out bags continue to be the bane of existence to those who frequently clean our beaches, that’s why we are advocating in support of a statewide Reusable Bag Bill.

Reusable Bag Bill– Building on local ordinances aimed at reducing the impacts of single use plastic carry out bags that have now passed in 27 different local municipalities across Washington, House Bill 1205 & Senate Bill 5323 were introduced last week. HB 1205 had it’s first public hearing in the House Environment and Energy Committee on the MLK Holiday, overall it went really well with strong support from business, community leaders, and environmental advocates. To view the hearing, follow this link and please note to scroll to 1 hour and 10 minutes to view that bills discussion. This issue is a main priority for Surfrider Foundation in Washington, as well as the Environmental Priorities Coalition, of which Surfrider is a member. There’s been some pretty good coverage on the topic in local media recently, including this Seattle Times piece which quoted the bill sponsor as saying that “Washington is going to be on the leading edge of reducing single-use plastics,” said now Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds.

There’s also been a handful of great editorial pieces that have come from various corners of the state over the past couple of months in support of a statewide approach to addressing the impacts of plastic bags. Check out the editorial from The Columbian in Vancouver, and another from the Yakima Herald. When you see articles run in your local paper, it’s a great time to show your support with a letter to the editor, contact us if you’d like any help in doing so!

What’s Ahead– Things are definitely moving fast, as the companion bill (SB 5323) will get it’s first hearing in the Senate Environment, Energy, and Technology Committee on Thursday, January 24th at 10am. See agenda here. Also being heard by the Committee are bills addressing plastic straws, plastic packaging, and litter control along state highways. If you’re interested and able, this would be a great one to attend, or if you can’t make it, you can always stream the hearing via TVW.

Ways that YOU can take action today and help support!