Students push for Happy Valley plastic bag ban
Verne Duncan Elementary students are preparing speeches, a PowerPoint presentation and displays illustrating the urgency to ban plastic checkout bags in Happy Valley.
They will make a presentation to the Happy Valley City Council on Nov. 20 to advocate for a ban similar to the one recently enacted by Milwaukie, which became the first city in Clackamas County to ban plastic checkout bags thinner than 4 millimeters. After an Aug. 21 unanimous vote by the City Council, Milwaukie retail establishments and food providers larger than 10,000 square feet must phase out the use of plastic bags and polystyrene food containers by March 1.
Green Team student representatives at Duncan Elementary in 2017 began expressing concerns about plastics in the ocean after seeing videos of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, said David E. Rubin, second-grade teacher and Green Team co-coordinator.
"Others have witnessed the plastic bags littering our communities," Rubin said. "Some were aware that other communities had banned plastic bags from checkouts."
They brainstormed ideas for addressing the issue and began a letter-writing campaign to the Happy Valley City Council to persuade city officials to eliminate plastic bags at all grocery checkouts. They received a reply a couple months later acknowledging students' concerns and asking to table the issue until the fall, because there were outstanding agenda items that already had been scheduled on the council's docket.
Assistant Happy Valley Manager Ben Bryant said the City Council hasn't taken a formal position.
"Any opportunity the Council has to hear from youth in the community is very much welcomed, so the group is looking forward to hearing from the students at Verne Duncan before coming to any conclusion," Bryant said. "Following the students' presentation, the city would also need to engage the business community prior to making any final decision."