The statewide ban on single-use plastic carry-out bags, which went on temporary hiatus earlier in the pandemic, is now back in place. So if you hid your reusable bags away, now is the time to figure out where they are. (Fortunately, mine are still sitting next to the shoe rack by the door to the garage.)

Before the ban was in place, Oregonians were creating up to 11 million pounds of plastic waste per year from just plastic grocery and merchandise bags. In the U.S., we use over 100 billion single-use plastic bags a year. That’s over 300 bags a person per year. That’s a lot of waste that can easily be replaced by something reusable. (Consider checking out the film Bag It, which the Newport chapter of Surfrider has screened several times. The film offers a witty and informative look at plastic use and its effects.)

When Oregon’s bag ban first went into effect, Surfrider offered up some answers and advice about the law. For example, what’s the deal with those thicker plastic bags? Some stores use thicker bags, which are technically considered “reusable” under the current law. However, Surfrider encourages you to use bags that will last much longer.

We understand that not everyone will be on board with the change right away, and we hope that by being a positive example, we can help others see that the law is a good thing.

However, there may come a time when enforcement is necessary, if a business or other entity isn’t complying with the law. General questions related to the ordinance may be directed to Peggy Hawker at p.hawker@newportoregon.gov or 541-574-0613. Enforcement questions may be directed to the Newport Police Department Community Service Office at 541-265-4847 or 541-265-4854.

The full text (PDF) of the local ordinance, No. 2159, is available on the Newport city website.

We hope you’ll do your best to help keep the coast plastic free.