12-Year-Old Collects 152,000 Signatures to Ban Plastic Bags

Abby Goldberg of Grayslake is now taking her environmental fight against plastic bags to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

Governor Quinn: Don't let big plastic bully me!

That is how 12-year-old Abby Goldberg of Grayslake titled her online petition against plastic bags. As of June 30, the petition has collected 152,376 signatures from around the country. And the numbers keep growing.

The petition states: "Once again, big corporations are trying to use big government to control the rights of citizens in towns all over America, but this time you can help me stop it!" 

It continues to talk about how she wanted to get a ban of plastic bags approved for her hometown, but then faced a bigger fight: "My friends and I were making great progress, until the oil and chemical industry pulled a dirty trick to kill my campaign; these lobbyists used the politicians that they bought to pass a bill that would make it illegal for towns across Illinois to create plastic bag bans! Even worse, they’re trying to make it look like a green environmental bill, by putting in a few ridiculously low requirements for so-called “recycling” of plastic bags, and are bragging they’re going to make it "a model bill for all states!”

Goldberg said the issue is about the bags, and big government.

"It's about small towns trying to say what they want to do," she said. "The plastic bags are really bad for the environment. I chose to try to get plastic bags banned in my town. This bill would stop that."

The elementary school activist at in Grayslake said she is excited by the response to her campaign at http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-quinn-don-t-let-big-plastic-bully-me.

"I'm so surprised," Goldberg said. "It makes me feel great because I know that my efforts have really made an impact. No matter how old you are, you can still do good things if you put your mind to it."

The Fate of the Bill

Change.org stated that SB 3442 has passed both the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate and would make it illegal for towns across Illinois to create plastic bag bans.

The bill is now on Quinn’s desk. He has not indicated whether he plans to sign the bill so Goldberg is mobilizing support to urge him to veto the measure. 

“Kids and adults like me are standing up to big oil and big plastic, creating bans everywhere, including in Los Angeles, Hawaii, Seattle, Austin, and more. Communities should be able to decide for themselves whether or not to ban single-use plastic bags, including here in Illinois,” Goldberg stated.

Supporters of SB 3442 have said that they hope this can be model legislation for other states, which could effectively limit the ability of communities nationwide to pass bans on plastic bags. 

Social Media Activism

“Young people like Abby Goldberg are using Change.org to level the playing field against big companies and big lobbyists,” stated Mike Jones, deputy campaign director at Change.org.

"This has become one of our most popular petitions," he said. "This is an issue that certainly engages people. It attracts people who are concerned about the environmental impacts of plastic bags, and others who care about government not being able to tell people what to do."

Change.org is a platform for petitions about almost anything. Jones said they have nearly 15 million users overall from throughout the United States and in 10 countries around the world.

"In general, there are about 10,000 petitions started on change.org per month," Jones said. "Several stay small. Abby's is one of the ones that really hit a nerve."

Live signature totals from Abby Goldberg’s campaign:

Bob June 30, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Oh, yea, electronic petitions aren't worth the paper they're printed on.
Cindy McGowan June 30, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Kudos to Abby for taking a stand and following through on something so important to her and to the world we live in. There are however other considerations to make besides just making a blanket statement regarding banning all plastic bags. I happen to work in the plastic industry, so I obviously have a bias. I cannot speak for all manufacturers, however an extremely large percentage of our products do come from recycled material. We receive huge quantities of used plastic bags that we reprocess into the resin used to make our product. Also, there are additives that can be included in the resin that help break down the plastic quicker thus making it biodegradable. This is all in addition to things people can do on a personal level, ie, repurposing and reusing bags. So perhaps instead of an all-out ban, new guidelines can be recommended on the type of product used for consumers. We should all think of solutions and stay informed.
Peter June 30, 2012 at 03:50 PM
TO EVERYONE BUT BOB THE TROLL (See why below in the final comment): Wake up. This is about a corporate special interest with no local power using their bought buddies in big government to control local government. If this were called the XYZ Control Act, written by the XYZ lobby group, and the bill slipped in "By the way, your town can never ban XYZ product, no matter the reason, no matter how bad you know it is for your town or how much it costs your town to deal with our product or what your citizens want," then ask yourself if you'd support it. If you say you would, you're either not being honest with yourself, with me, or you work for the plastics industry. This is not about recycling. Framing it as such is falling for a trick by the plastics industry to misguide you into discussing the wrong topic. Why this isn't written for Bob: Studies show that people like Cindy can be reasoned with, and trolls like Bob who mastered the ability to hate and use caps, but have not mastered reason, civility and thinking outside his own preconceptions cannot, so Bobby, you are disregarded.
Bob June 30, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Can we leave the personal attacks out of this???
Jessica Bertelli June 30, 2012 at 03:57 PM
GO ABBY! Stand up for our freedom - our right for a voice against an industry that has all the money to buy their own voice. People on here talking about plastic are missing the point... It's great to argue about whether plastic bags can be truly recycled -- they can't in 99% of the cases, only downcycled -- or whether our dwindling supply of fossil fuels should be used for the convenience of making the lives of people like Bob easier to procreate, or whether we should destroy our ecosystems and future in order to grow our economy by consuming, consuming finite resources, feeling good about recycling here and there so that we make the party last another decade or two, at the cost of EVERYTHING.... This is about your town being to what to do. If you fall for their rhetoric, you lose, I lose, they win. It's so insanely obvious.
Rit Sheridan June 30, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Instead of "cursing" Abby's efforts, we as adults should be encouraging her involvement. Young people like Abby give me hope for the future of the World.
Jessica Bertelli June 30, 2012 at 04:14 PM
To address some concerns on here about plastic, if you want to go there and don't want to do the research... 1. Yes, paper bags are in some way as bad and even much worse for the environment -- at the factory. That's why bag bans typically come with a discouragement fee of using those too. HOWEVER, plastic is a bigger problem. It's a non-renewable resource, leaving a product that never goes away, leaves potentially toxic chemicals in our bodies forever, just by handling them, and helps destroy our oceans. Remember that place we get our oxygen from? Yeah, the oceans. Paper is degradable. Paper is renewable. Paper is more easily recycled. Paper is not refused by recycling centers, as the vast majority of plastic bags are by the vast majority of recycling centers. Think beyond the alarmist bell.
Jessica Bertelli June 30, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Thanks Bob, I agree with you that banning gay marriage, abortion and handguns is largely wrong. That's exactly why Abby's right on this -- the plastic lobby's bill is a ban on community choice. It takes away choice of local communities decide issues for themselves, and puts it into the hands of special interests that, trust me, are NOT doing this to protect your rights. They hope to trick you into getting them more money. Plain and simple.
Bob June 30, 2012 at 04:24 PM
FYI, we do recycle all our paper and plastic bags, and most of our household garbage. We also use reusable bags for everything except fresh meat. By choice, not because someone forces us to do so. We also own fuel efficient vehicles and an energy efficient house. Again by choice. Stuff that leaks, like fresh meat, or is moist, like frozen food just doesn't work well in paper, and I'd never put raw meat in reusable bags.
Bob June 30, 2012 at 04:29 PM
How about schools that institute recycling programs, then dump everything, garbage and recycle, into the same dumpster? that's what's happening out there at least in our school district. SO why bother spending extra money to buy all the recycle containers if the stuff in them doesn't get recycled?
Jessica Bertelli June 30, 2012 at 04:31 PM
I'd argue that plastic bag use is not a personal freedom, just like overly loud sound amplification in an apartment building, public dumping of toxic chemicals into your living room, robbery... they're in everyone's face, spread everywhere, destroy everyone's air, waste everyone's natural resources and thus the users force it to be a community issue, by imposing on other humans and the environment. Regarding taxing bags or banning freedom or whatever, think for a second about it this way: the clean up costs for your "freedom bag" are huge and largely fruitless. That's paid for by your government, and then people complain that they're borrowing too much to run your government for you, but you won't let them raise taxes so... essentially you're crapping all over your city, allowing people less considerate than you are to crap more carelessly, spreading stink, then banning your fellow citizens from trying to clean up your mess, then when money's tight, voting against paying your fair share. If these points don't ring true to you, there's really nothing anyone can say. When it comes to resources and the environment, it is not cut as cut and dry as stupid marriage bans, pot bans, etc. Thanks
Jessica Bertelli June 30, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Are you aware that humans, almost invariably, will choose convenience of the moment, over concerns about something they can't see right in front of them? Look up palm oil, see what that's doing to your food and air supply, and then wonder why it's in almost 50% of the products we buy. Then ask yourself why you've never even heard of the palm oil problem. Fact: Bans on plastic bags and fees for using paper -- definitely bad for the environment as well -- reduce their use by up to 95% within a few weeks. Think about that compared to the 2 to 3% decrease created by bring-your-own-bag awareness campaigns. I believe in education -- which is why I'm posting on here -- but I'm very aware that my beliefs don't matter much. Sadly, only the numbers count when it comes to change :) Education on this issue does NOT work. Studies show that when bags get banned, people get mad, then after 3 months don't care. Eventually they wonder why the hell they ever used them in the first place. Looking at the big picture, and even the medium picture, all that energy and resources to create something to be used just once or a few times... it's really insane. Always look at who's funding the bill, and who's funding the sponsors, and you'll get your answer as to who the bill is really for. That's why Abby's story is so great -- she's a kid who wants community choice. She's out in the open about why she wants it, and people see and support that. Thanks TriMommy!
Jessica Bertelli June 30, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Kudos to you for doing some of your part, Bob! I mean that. Unfortunately, not enough people do what you do to address this enormous, unprecedented problem, and even if they did, it's not enough. It just pushes our problem back a few years. Even if you reduced your plastic bag use by 90%, that'd still just delay the problem.
Gary Kavanagh June 30, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Keep up the good fight Abby. Single use plastic bags are unnessisary, most never get recycled & they sit in the biosphere almost indefinitely. Here in Santa Monica California we banned plastic bags & added a paper bag fee, but not without significant pushback from the petrochemical lobbies. It was so important for us as a beachside community, & the irreparable damage plastic particles are having to ocean life. Neighboring Los Angeles, a city as big in population as some countries, is moving forward with a ban modeled after Santa Monica's. Young kids in the school system here helped champion the cause & made a "bag monster" suit from old bags & made appearances at local festivals & city council. The youth have to lead on policy for the future they will live to see, & I hope that your motivation prevails. Build a social movement. Fight. Win. You can do it.
Cindy McGowan June 30, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I also completely applaud Abby's efforts!! It's young people like her that will make a difference in everyone's lives now and in the future by insisting that local governments are allowed to have a voice. And as far as the argument whether or not plastic can or cannot be truly recycled or biodegradable, there are no "tricks" here. I was referring to something on a much bigger scale than simply the few bags of groceries we all pick up at the store every week. Consider the waste disposed of on a daily basis by the health care industry. Insisting on a ban is fine, however the need for solutions that will protect our environment as well allowing us to productively function as a society need to be considered. The technology and knowledge is out there.
cmeller June 30, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Good for you A young progressive!! Keep up the good work!
a smith June 30, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Another your progressive..HA another young Obama democrat. Why do we need Govt to tell us to use paper or plastic. I like plastic as well and yes it can be recycled. Much better than carrying big paper bags or bringing my own bag. I dont want someone elses dirty bag where my groceries are. Good you want to get a petition but how bout work for a people not littering. Do you know how much stuff people just throw out of their cars or in parking lots. Just what we need a Govt telling us something else we cannot use. I think Gov Quinn better worry about much more pressing things in Illinois like , the State is broke, high taxes etc etc. list goes on.
McCloud June 30, 2012 at 08:05 PM
I don't believe in recycling, its a waste of time made up by people to make the masses feel better and participate in group think. From now on I will ask for plastic only, double bagged.
Bucephalus June 30, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Oh irony. You realize that doing the exact opposite of something doesn't make you smarter than the people who are doing whatever you disagree with? You accuse people of not thinking about an issue and just doing something because everyone else is. You are not thinking about an issue and are just doing something because everyone else is doing the opposite. Bravo on that complex thinking there. Besides, why stop at double bagged?
McCloud June 30, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Eventually it will come back around. I'm old enough to remember when paper bags were the evil in this world, as grocery stores started to convert over to the friendly plastic bags. Kind of like the global cooling in the 1970s was all the rage. I'm just ahead of my time.
palresident June 30, 2012 at 10:01 PM
I like plastic bags and have found many way to reuse them. I also recycle them if I collect too many. I don't think they should be banned.
Gary Kavanagh June 30, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Science is a process of progressions in understanding. It is not always right, but it's a process of self correction as new or better data becomes available. The consequences of plastic were not well understood then because the stuff hadn't been widely used for long enough to see it's persistence in ecosystems and what the long term effects would be. Global cooling was a real concern for a time because in the cycles of natural climate shifts in the historical record, we were considered due for a cooling age by some researchers. However climate models then hadn't developed to account for the effect of our emissions of stored carbon. Instead of a slight cooling, we are now getting incredibly rapid warming that is being borne out in smashed temperature records across the country and across the globe, stronger storms, and more crushing droughts in the Southwest. Going back to thinking in terms of what data was available in the 1970's does not make you ahead of the times. It means you are stuck and incapable of making rational choices on the best information we have available.
McCloud July 01, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Gary, wait a few years when cardigan sweaters and facial hair become a global threat. You may want to act now.
marilyn July 01, 2012 at 12:14 PM
omg people, the girl is doing a gret thing! You are a bunhc of idjits. TREES are renewable! In this coutnry, 3 trees are planted for every one harvested! Maybe not in other countries. It is one of the most regulated industries in the coutnry. Plastic bag manufacture is one of the most polluting and oil consuming ones. Can you grow platic bags? No. Are they biodegradeable? No. Do they get stuck in trees? No. Do they clogg up the oceans? No. Have they done more damage to the environment than paper? YES. good for Abbey. Don't listen to these idiots!
marilyn July 01, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Good for her! The government can ban regular lightbulbs, they can ban Cranberry juice ( a governor is working on that one), and you guys think this is so horrible? When plastic bags first came out, paper bags were practically banned. Paper: renewable, recyclable, biodegradeable, doesn't get stuck in trees, or clog up oceans and rivers. You can grow it back. Plastc? Hardly, and uses alot of petroleum in the manufacture. In this country, it is a federal law that 3 trees are planted for every 1 harvested - it is a very highly regulated industry. If you look at the whole country, the harvested areas are very small, and are growing back BEFORE the next area is harvested. There is nothing more sickening than a beautiful tree filled with ugly, wasteful plastic bags stuck in it's branches. Some people seem to think that every single tree is harvested, and that is simply untrue. The leftists who started the plastic thing in the first place ended up doing more harm than good, and now they want to act like they had nothing to do with it. Just like when they got everybody thinking how awful breastfeeding was; did more harm than good, and now they deflect and act like it was someone elses' idea. Anyway, Good for Abbey!
MG56 July 01, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Great scene from The Graduate 1967...one word....Plastics. Google it. By the way saw some very cute purses made from recycled plastic at a shop named NOTICE on Central in Evanston.
Gary July 01, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Businesses started using plastic bags because the environmentalists made a big stink about paper bags. It will never end. There is no science in present day environmentalism. Did you folks know that our grade schools are teaching our children that the earth is running out of water? Not fresh water... water. The quote from a sing on the wall in a local grade school: "Water is going to DISSAPEAR from our earth, so please HELP! ..." Many, many other signs just like it lined the halls. Science is NOT being taught in our schools. Radical environmentalists have taken control, and no one is stopping them.
McCloud July 03, 2012 at 01:07 AM
My car could be causing global warming these past few days. I get into it and it is hot. Could that be due to the corporatists who make Buicks? The barrons who take my credit card at Shell. Or maybe the Koch brothers are behind it.
Sadie Hawkins July 12, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Get a life, Abby, and leave us alone.
Jack July 13, 2012 at 06:32 PM
They should be looking for technologies that make a difference. http://www.biosphereplastic.com


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