This guest Slog post is by Seattle City Council member Mike O’Brien

On Thursday, December 16 at noon, I will be joining volunteers from the Surfrider Foundation at Westlake Center (4th & Pine) to distribute reusable bags to shoppers in honor of “Day Without a Bag.” I currently chair the Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Commission, and recent estimates suggest Seattleites use 292 million disposable plastic bags every year. Less than 5 percent are recycled, while the other 95 percent end up in landfills, streams, lakes and forests.

The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and we can all help cut back on waste this year by taking our reusable bags on these outings, too. Plastic bags aren’t just ugly litter; they’re especially harmful to our marine environment. Virtually every piece of plastic ever produced still exists in some form, no matter how small, and much of it is floating in the ocean where marine mammals and birds mistake it for food or become entangled in it. This debris causes marine life deaths throughout the world, and earlier this year, a gray whale washed up in West Seattle with a stomach filled with debris that included 20 plastic bags.

Day Without A Bag reminds us that there are some easy things we can all do this holiday season to reduce our impact on the environment. Supported by retailers and consumers, Day Without Bag is raising awareness and initiating a small change in our behavior that is good for the environment and good for our pocket book. I hope you join me in pledging not using any disposable bags on December 16.