Efforts afoot to ban plastic bags in Nome
A ban on plastic shopping bags will be coming to Nome if an effort spearheaded by the Native Village of Solomon’s environmental coordinator succeeds. Deilah Johnson wrote a proposal and her traditional council approved it. The upcoming Nome City Council work session on Feb. 10 has the proposal to ban bags on the agenda.
Johnson manages the environmental program for Solomon and writes grants. “We try to be active in the City of Nome because we don’t live in Solomon,” she said. “Contributing to community life in Nome is something we really love to do.”
Why ban plastic bags?
Nome is a coastal community with a subsistence lifestyle. The impact of plastics on the world’s oceans is bad and getting worse, is the argument against plastic bags. Fish are ingesting microplastics and worldwide plastic pollution is affecting fishing stocks.
Johnson feels the Village of Solomon can lead the effort to ban the bags. “I started reaching out to contacts I have at Kawerak and other places and received letters of support from Angie Gorn [NSHC] and Melanie Bahnke. I received a letter of support from King Island as well.”
She contacted Representative Neal Foster and he advised her to start with the Nome City Council. So she did research on all the municipalities in the U.S. that have banned plastic bags and how they did it. She learned there are over 400 hundred such cities. Eugene, Oregon, where she lives, passed the ban. “I was already comfortable with that here in Eugene because they passed that a few years ago,” she said.
On February 8 there will be an event at Norton Sound Health Center to promote the ban. Bering Straits Native Corporation donated money for the purchase of 500 reusable totes with the logo “Ban the Bag” and everybody who attends will get a free tote. In the tote will be a Ban the Bag bumper sticker and a flyer about pollution facts, particularly in a coastal community. There will be a film about plastic pollution and there will be food. The event opens at 1 p.m. and will be on the first floor of the hospital.
Johnson is hoping she’ll be able to motivate people to attend the city council work session with her on Feb. 10.