EDITORIAL: See ya, plastic bags. Welcome, 520 tolls.

There are two changes coming that aren’t thrilling many. One is the tolling on the 520 bridge, slated to begin Dec. 29. The other is a plastic bags ban, which will likely be implemented in July.

This week on Monday, Seattle City Council unambiguously passed a ban on single-use plastic bags, a ban that goes a few steps further than plastic bag bans in other cities. Here, bags will be banned in grocery stores, department stores, clothing stores, convenience stores, home improvement stores, food trucks, and farmers markets.

Fear not. If you forget your reuseable food bags at home, you can still purchase paper bags at 5 cents apiece.

Next, the bill will go to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. If he approves it, the ban will be in effect July.

According to the Associated Press, the ban is expected to reduce environmental waste and pollution. “Seattle residents use 292 million plastic bags and 68 million paper bags a year,” wrote Donna Blankenship in the Associated Press. “About 82 percent of paper bags are recycled while only 13 percent of plastic bags are recycled.”

The tolling on SR 520 begins at the end of the month, and revenue from tolls is slated to help build a new, safer 520 bridge. Tolls will vary depending on the time of day you take the bridge. With a Good To Go! pass, tolls will range from $0 to $3.50 (during peak hours).

Cynics will say that these are two new ways for the government to take our money, and we see where they are coming from. Additional fees during a time of economic hardship will be rough for some families.

However, we choose to view this as a glass half-full. Rather than focus on the negative, think about how lucky we are to live in a city and state that value our natural resources and our safety. We are lucky that we are getting a new bridge and better transportation, to spare people from getting hurt due to aging infrastructure.

Perhaps you’ve been thinking about using reusable bags at the grocery store, but you keep forgetting. This ban will be a reason not to forget.

Coincidentally, the coming year is Northwest Asian Weekly’s 30th year in existence. To celebrate our anniversary, we designed keepsake reusable bags with our logo. If you are interested in getting a bag (they are $2 for subscribers, $3 for everyone else) please send us an e-mail to rsvp@nwasianweekly.com. Help support a small business in addition to helping sustain the environment.

Merry Christmas! (end)

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