On Tuesday, July 12th, 2016 the Tacoma City Council held a vote and passed a bring your own bag ordinance. After almost four years of work, the South Sound chapter remained dedicated to seeing the policy through. Following three hours of testimony, debate, and a late substitute bill threatening to undo their work, the chapter and the city of Tacoma were victorious with an 8-1 vote in favor of the chapter supported legislation.

The chapter launched this campaign to protect their prized Commencement Bay and associated marine environment. Running the list of grassroots tasks to raise awareness and gain support, they not only worked toward a significant policy advancement, but also grew their numbers and stature in the community. Down the stretch the chapter did not let up, continually appearing and providing public comment at community forums, Tacoma City Council subcommittee meetings, and the two council meetings where the ordinance was discussed.

Stena Bag Forum

South Sound Chapter Volunteer Coordinator Stena speaking in support of the ordinance during a Tacoma public forum.

The council meeting where the vote was taken was filled with twist and turns. Ken Campbell, former South Sound Chapter Chair and Director of the Ikkatsu Project, recently wrote a summary of the evening that well depicts the closeness of the vote despite the final total being 8-1. When a substitute ordinance looking to not eliminate plastic bags but instead place a 5 cent fee on them was introduced it looked to have the votes despite a large majority of public speakers supporting the original ordinance. However, following a second wave of public comment the substitute was voted down 5-4 and the original prevailed by an 8-1 vote.

Picture from the South Sound Chapter’s Monthly Beach Cleanup Series

The South Sound chapter would like to thank everyone for their commitment to this campaign. The chapter not only was successful in the end with the passage of the legislation, but also saw its numbers and notoriety in the community grow. With monthly beach cleanups, water quality testing, and new programs ready to take off it’s a perfect time to get involved with the crew in the Tacoma area. Please contact the chapter or visit their website for more information on ways you can protect and enjoy your favorite beach in the south Puget Sound.