"Arizona [Governor Doug Ducey] may hate the environment, but that doesn't mean YOU have to!" That's the message behind the reusable Doug DoucheBAG campaign. Conceived by Stacey Champion of Rogue Green -- a Valley-based environmental group -- and designed by one her friends, these canvas bags were a big "F You" Earth Day present to Governor Ducey for signing Senate Bill 1241 into law.
SB 1241, known to many as the "ban on the ban" bill, "prohibits cities, towns, and counties from enacting regulations regarding energy measuring or reporting or auxiliary containers." (Auxiliary containers, by the way, include "reusable bags, disposable bags, boxes, beverage cans, bottles, cups, and containers that are made out of cloth, plastic, extruded polystyrene, glass, aluminum, cardboard, or other materials that are used for transporting merchandise to or from a business or multifamily housing property.")
See also: Bag Bans Outlawed in Arizona
Losing the SB 1241 battle was an especially big disappointment to Champion, given all the time and energy she spent campaigning against it. She testified at the Legislature, and was actively involved in getting 5000 people to call and write Ducey asking him to veto the bill.
"I was so pissed, I had to spin it into a positive," she adds, describing the reusable "DoucheBAGS" as a turning-lemons-into-lemonade endeavor. Her goal was to "use humor and snarkiness . . . to make fun of something that is really stupid [while also finding a way to] give back to the organizations that are out in the trenches doing work."
All the money raised will be used to cover production and design costs, with the remainder going to the Arizona Chapter of the Sierra Club. Rogue Green's crowd-funding campaign brought in more than $1,000 in the first day -- a $20 donation gets you one canvas bag -- and the coffer is now more than $1,500.
While plastic bags have a big environmental cost -- from dead marine life and birds to the 12 million barrels of petroleum products Americans use every year to make them -- many lawmakers who support this new ban make a fiscal argument for doing so. They say plastic-bag bans impose unfair costs on businesses, which then pass those costs on to consumers, and hurt the state's economic recovery efforts.
But Champion and others don't think this argument is sound because plastic bags end up costing cities a lot of money -- and who pays for those costs but the taxpayers.
"Phoenix alone spends $1 million a year just pulling plastic bags out of the recycling stream," she says. The crowd-funding website also lists other facts, like that "Recommunity Recycling, which services the City of Tempe, estimates that single-use plastic bags cost the city $150,000 annually in direct labor costs (cleaning and repairing machinery, capturing bags), plus $60,000 in lost revenue due to missing good clean recyclables while they are chasing bags." Tempe was one of the cities in Arizona considering a plastic bag ban.
"Just because there is a ban on the ban [of plastic bags], doesn't mean that consumers and businesses can't still do the right thing," Champion says, adding that her designer is working on a new template. The second bag will focus on cuts to education, and the money it brings in will go to an educational nonprofit. (They have not selected a specific one yet.)
"We want to see these bags across the state and beyond," the website says. Arizona is just one of many states and cities weighing a plastic bag ban -- or in our case a ban on banning plastic bags. Champion expects more states to cave to the petroleum lobby, "so at the end of the day, we can either choose to laugh or cry," she says.
The Doug DoucheBAGS are her attempt to go with the former.
Got a tip? Send it to: Miriam Wasser.
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