Thursday, November 18, 2010

Plastic Bags & Mt. Vernon's Watersheds **UPDATED**

Quander Brook runs from Beacon Hill and parallel's U.S. 1 near Belle Haven where it empties into Great Hunting Creek near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. During my campaign and during a trash cleanup I sponsored last Spring (See, The Dixie Pig, Cleaning Up Quander Brook), I was astonished by the number of plastic bags that were in Quander Creek.

They get caught on fallen limbs and tree roots and creating "trash dams" in the creeks themselves. Plastic bags make up much of the trash in Paul Spring, Little Hunting Creek, and Dogue Creek all of which run through the 44th District which has U.S. 1's and its retail outlets running through nearly all of its watersheds. This picture to the left is a plastic bag in the culvert next to 7-11 behind Hollin Hall Shopping Center that feeds into Paul Spring Branch.

In 2009, the District of Columbia enacted a $.05 per bag tax on plastic bags to help clean up the Anacostia & Potomac Rivers. Plastic bag consumption dropped from 22.5 million bags to 3 million bags per month and generated $150,000 to help clean up the Anacostia River.

These bags were banned in China in 2009 saving that country 40 billion bags or 37 million barels of crude oil. Last month, Los Angeles County adopted a plastic bag ban and required retailers to sell paper bags for $0.10 each.

Aside from creating trash, plastic bags harm aquatic turtles and sea turtles that mistake them for jellyfish. They take up landfill waste. They are incredibly expensive to recycle.

Last session, Delegate Adam Ebbin introduced legislation mandating a $0.05 per plastic and paper bag tax on plastic bags in Virginia to raised funds for the Virginia Water Quality Improvement Fund. The legislation failed in committee.

I am curious what Mount Vernon's residents think about solutions to this problem and I have included a survey below.

The Roanoke Times ran an editorial regarding movement in the City of Roanoke to request local authority to tax plastic shopping bags. The editorial can be read here.



  1. Having lived and shopped in Europe for several years, we were either required to provide our own bags OR pay a fee for plastic bags. Paper bags were not an option. I would like to see incentives to retailers as well as consumers to encourage the use of reusable bags and/or recycling bags by taking them back to the retailer.

  2. I regularly take walks in woods where there are streams, and in addition to plastic bags, bottles, balls, and other trash, they are suffering from algae blooms due to fertlizer runoff from home lawns. Ways to encourage sparing use of fertilizer would do a lot for our stream's health.


    Ban plastic and charge not .5, but .10 for paper. :-)

  4. Before I dismount my pony...I was just driving down the parkway and as always in fall notice all of the english ivy, honeysuckle, and invasive vines (that were planted by homeowners for groundcover) that have killed and are climbing and suffocating the trees on the parkway. I think the houses who's fence it is climbing over should be charged with the cleanup. Doesn't matter when it was planted. It is coming from their property. It's just tragic what it's done to our landscape. Perhaps we can ban the nurseries, Lowes and Home Depot from carrying them.