The reason that a reusable bag bill is important is not because of the large percentage of plastic waste that it will remove from the system. Plastic bags only account for a small part of the overall plastic debacle (although packaging is a full 50% overall, which is fairly mind-boggling). And even though there have been some spectacularly horrible stories lately about whales and other marine mammals washing up with plastic in their stomachs, a bag ban in Washington state is unlikely to have any measurable effects on that particular problem worldwide.
The reason it matters, this ridding ourselves of plastic bags as part of our retail experience, is that it is something that each of us encounters every day in the world. Saying that we are done with them is beginning to say the right things, perhaps finding a new voice as a society. Bags are something that most of us see every day, and making them disappear from daily use would represent an active step forward, by and for all of us, a down-payment on a promise to improve our relationship with our planet.
The bag bill, or Senate Bill 5323 and its companion House Bill 1205, did not become law. They didn’t even get a final vote.