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OSPIRG
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KEZI
By
Sonia Taleti

EUGENE, Ore. -- Every year, Oregon uses 1.7 billion single-use plastic bags.

 

Portland banned plastic bags, and now some people in Eugene want to do the same.

 

Nearly 800 University of Oregon students signed a petition they plan to take to Eugene City Council next month to ban the use of plastic bags in Eugene.

 

The group pushing for the ban, Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, hopes to double the number of petitions on campus.

 

They say their cause is important because they are fighting for marine life.

 

"They stay for 500 years in the ocean and nothing we use for five minutes should last that long in the ocean," said student Harry Leung.

 

Plastic trash from water bottles, cups, bottle caps and bags piles into a gigantic island in the Pacific Ocean.

 

"It's twice the size of Texas, so it's a big worry," Leung said.

 

Some businesses that hand out single-use plastic bags say the transition is easy to make.

 

"No change at all. The only difference is you are not going to see the plastic bags, if in case the ordinance goes by. All we are going to use is the paper," said Grocery Outlet store manager Andy Yanez.

 

Yanez says a quarter of the customers already come in with their own bags.

 

"There are people who bring their own bags, so that's appreciated," Yanez said.

 

"Once I get into the habit of it, it's like second nature. It's really easy," Leung said.

 

He says his store has been ready for life without plastic bags ever since the state proposed the possibility late last year.

 

"It's almost like when we went from paper to plastic and using both. So, it's really no big deal," Yanez said.

 

KEZI was unable to get a comment from larger grocery chains.