Marcus Larson/News-Register##Patty Keeling, employee of the Circle K on Hill Road, places purchased items in a plastic bag for convenience. The store will soon be required to do away with their plastic bags, a change owner Sunny Singh is concerned about.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Patty Keeling, employee of the Circle K on Hill Road, places purchased items in a plastic bag for convenience. The store will soon be required to do away with their plastic bags, a change owner Sunny Singh is concerned about.
By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Bag ban soon to hit small retailers

With more than $100 in the cart, an elderly customer made his way through the checkout lane at Safeway when he was told he’d have to pay an additional 5 cents for every paper bag he used.

In his case, that would have been about 30 cents.

He initiated an obscenity-laden tirade against the cashier and the store before delivering an equally colorful speech about how Marxism occurs a plain brown wrapper. He then stormed off without his groceries.

That scene, witnessed by a News-Register reporter, happened in September, when large retailers in McMinnville were required to quit offering plastic bags. Instead, customers could bring their own bags or buy paper bags for 5 cents each.

The second phase of the bag ban goes into effect March 1 when it is extended to all local retailers.

Ramsey McPhillips is bracing for more hostility.

A leader of Zero Waste — whose mission is to make McMinnville the state’s first zero waste city — McPhillips and the group originally proposed the bag ban. Miscommunication led to mixed reviews when the ban first went into effect, McPhillips said.

“It’s been tough on the cashiers, and we’ve done our best to back anyone who wants to talk with customers,” he said.
However, he added, the reaction was no surprise.

“There was the expected conflicts and usual SNAFUs when it first rolled out,” McPhillips said. “In general, though, the ban is going really, really well.”
Rumors spread nonetheless, especially among people resenting the idea of city officials padding their coffers with every nickel spent for a paper bag. That was a giant misconception, McPhillips said.

“The 5-cent fee was not sent to the city,” he said. “It is used by the stores to compensate them for the expense of the paper bags. No money is going to the city.”
Dan Hilbert has been fighting the ban, passed unanimously by the city council Feb. 14 last year, since it was first proposed. He doesn’t care who gets the money; no one is getting any of his nickels.

“I don’t use my dishwasher because it’s full of plastic bags,” he said. “I have 400 bags in there, and I just use them.”

Hilbert called the ban a complete disaster.

“It’s not going very well at all,” he said. “I don’t see any people purchasing the paper bags. They’re walking out with cardboard boxes and regular plastic bags. They’re just carrying their items without any bags or anything.”

Don Brown, manager of the Big Apple Market on Lafayette Avenue, said his customers are adjusting to the ban — slowly.

Marcus Larson/News-Register##Available on the front counter of the Circle K are informational pamphlets distributed by Zero Waste McMinnville detailing the rules for the plastic bag ban. On the top sheet, a member of the public has colorfully written, "What do you meatheads put your garbage in at home? Duh plastic!"

“Eventually, they’ll start bringing their own bags, but many of them are still complaining,” he said. “I talk to a lot of people who walk into my store. That’s why I run into problems. A lot of them get worked up.”

Meanwhile, his stock of plastic bags is dwindling. “I have a small supply of plastic bags, but I’ll be done with them by the end of the month,” he said.
Dan Sayers, owner of the Merri Artist on Third Street, said he doesn’t think about the ban that much.

“We’re a small enough store that it doesn’t affect us,” he said. “We continue to offer higher-quality plastic bags. A lot of our customers like them because they keep things dry. We have a lot of stuff they want to keep dry.”

But that ends March 1.

McPhillips confirmed that even higher-quality plastic bags will be banned beginning next month.

“We are a 100-percent plastic bag ban,” he said. “We’re not allowing heavy plastic recycling bags. We’ve gone cold turkey.”

Sunny Singh, who owns the Circle K on Southwest Hill Road, worries about how the ban will affect him as a small merchant.

“We sell a lot of beer and beer containers, those are a big problem,” Singh said. “Also, customers can bring their own bags and stuff whatever they want into them. At big stores, they can be tracked. But smaller stores? I don’t know. There are a lot of issues, I guess. I don’t know what to do.”

Ian Hancock, a clerk at the Circle K on Third Street, wishes city councilors had put the ban up for a vote by local residents.

“It’s kind of rotten how they forced this on all of us without putting it to a vote of the people,” he said.

Other retailers contacted by the News-Register refused to comment, saying only corporate policies forbid them from talking to the press.

For all people’s complaints, McPhillips said, the advantages of the bag ban continue to outweigh any problems. Besides, it’s hardly revolutionary, he added.
“The entire state of California bans plastic bags.”

While the ban extends to small retailers March 1, business owners still have some leeway in charging for the paper bags. “There is an exemption for small stores with less than 10 employees,” McPhillips said. “They don’t have to charge the 5 cents.”

Retailers can also offer small paper bags for free, and they will be allowed to work through their stock of plastic bags before making the switch permanently.
“We’re not ardently militant people about this,” McPhillips said. “They just have to make a good faith effort in ordering their bags.”

Zero Waste members will be outside numerous storis Feb. 28 to March 2 as the second phase of the ban goes into effect, he added. They will distribute free cloth bags and answer people’s questions.

Meanwhile, Hilbert will continue to reach into his dishwasher and keep using his old plastic bags. Overall, he said, Zero Waste has won this particular battle.
“I haven’t met too many people who are for this thing, but they’re just nonchalant and say, ‘What can we do?’” he said. “All the grocery stores have to enforce it. There are some fights you can win and some you just better stay out of.”



Recycling and be responsible is important. I think we can all do with fewer plastic bags but they are necessary and useful to many of us. Why is there no uproar over the amount of disposable diapers cluttering our landfills?


I no longer purchase anything in town that is not perishable. I have free shipping from Amazon usually in two days. It just takes a little pre planning to order before I run out of an item. Still go to Winco for perishable foods, supply my own plastic bags saved up over time. Seems everyone is OK with the large foam packing supports for such items as a microwave or other appliance. Too bad there is no recycle for styro foam, the bulk of which goes a long way to fill the landfill---which is now a problem we ship to another state. Also the subscription to this paper sends a paper copy along with the on line edition.Just gets thrown out here. More "feel good" legislation (not voted on ----forced on)just like shipping all the garbage out of state. Think of the Carbon!!!!


If, for any other reason except insanity, the councilors attempted passage of a disposable diaper ban, people would take to the streets and behave far more than rebelliously.


I don't get it....I shop at Winco a couple times a month and buy four bags of stuff....I use paper bags pay 20 cents....Why is this such a big deal?

by the way, anybody that shouts obscenities at a cashier over this issue is an idiot!


Why not have an article about what plastic bags are doing to the environment so people can better understand why the ban makes sense. Remember what life was like before smoking bans went into effect? Human lungs are now healthier. Less plastic would be better for all critters.


I went to Roths late at night about a month ago and bought about $100 worth of miscellaneous groceries. I had completely forgot about the government bag ban. When the cashier tried to "sell" me some paper bags I wan't the slightest bit rude, I just said "nope" and had them load everything up loose in the shopping cart and put it all loose in my car. My wife rolled her eyes but I stood strong on principle! After making about 15 trips from the car to the kitchen after we got home I decided never again. Now I just wait to buy things until I'm passing through Newberg or Sherwood. My new motto is "Don't Buy Local." My little protest probably won't make a bit of difference...the government is going to do what the government is going to do. But it does give me a little satisfaction to just say no to buying anything in Mac.


"Ian Hancock, a clerk at the Circle K on Third Street, wishes city councilors had put the ban up for a vote by local residents.

In the article, Ian said “It’s kind of rotten how they forced this on all of us without putting it to a vote of the people,” he said."

Thank you Ian!!! That is exactly how I feel about this whole thing!


Here is an important question that maybe Tom Henderson (the author of this story) can answer. Is Ramsey McPhillips a McMinnville resident? An Oregoinian? Or is he a person who came from out of town and saw our little 'ol, aw-shucks town as an easy mark for his personal bag banning agenda?


Joel..(I'm not trying to be a jerk..honestly :)

but what principal are you standing firm on...the fact that plastic is no longer available or the fact that you have to pay for the paper bags?....(or both?)


Actually, I agree with joel2828 for about the second time in the entire lifespan of readers' comments. The cashiers and clerks I've questioned openly resent this change; they're grossed out stuffing groceries into stinky, stained and filthy cloth bags.
Maybe the council could attach a codicil stipulating the authorized containers cannot be cootie-friendly.
Most optimum, of course, would have involved asking residents to vote their opinions.


tagup, It's a fair question.
The principle that I'm trying to stand on is that a person (Ramsy McPhillips) who doesn't like plastic bags, shouldn't be allowed to come in to a small town like Mac and sell a mayor and city council on enacting his pet political issue on the residents of the community...without any kind of vote! And to further rub our faces in it, we can still get a bag (Paper or cloth...thanks Ramsey) but guess what WE get to pay for it. That feel's fundamentally wrong to me. If he feels so strong about this, Ramsey ought to be the one to pay for our new "approved by him" bags.


Aw, come on Lulu...we agree a good 50% of the time, wouldn't ya say? :)


Tagup, I resent paying for a paper bag that I feel the merchant should provide FREE.after all they don't have to pay for the plastic anymore. I do business where the merchants provide what I need at a fair price. The paper bags used to be an alternative--"paper or plastic" was always a choice offered before it was outlawed. Just do not feel like paying the stores overhead.Also I feel plastic fits my lifestyle better. waterproof, multiple after sale type uses---garbage, pet waste, handy item to carry misc stuff on trips, hikes and other activities. In short they took away the choice.And it's much easier to shop online. been two months now and I see no downside to shopping out of town.


Joel2828, I don't consider my actions a protest, more like a personal choice to do business elsewhere. I patronize Winco since they were the last holdout. lots of benefits to on line shopping--- seldom out of stock, price comparison is easier, huge selection of different brands are some of the pluses.


Not quite, Joel. Maybe half your estimated percentage. However, like you, I am becoming increasingly resentful when people sanctimoniously explain how I must change for my own good. You know who ticks me off and should be forever exiled? Dullards. If I acquiesce to their capricious dictates, they can at minimum manage one sentence worth remembering. Quid pro quo.


Here is a video to introduce you to Ramsey McPhillips:

Mac Native 66


Don Dix

Ramsey McPhillips was quoted as saying, “The entire state of California bans plastic bags.”

Question -- which true Oregonian would desire Oregon to become anything resembling California? It's bad enough that this city council wants to mimic Metro and create all those little 'do good ordinances' to protect us from ourselves -- but then attempting to excuse it all away with 'Cali does it' -- miserably inadequate effort!


I think we can all do better than "No True Scottsman" arguments.
Hopefully we all have our community's larger, long term interests in mind, wherever we stand on a contentious issue. And pointing to successful examples of a policy implementation, particularly an economically significant one that is close by, is informative to the debate. Personal attacks... I'm not so sure.


Thanks Tree.


Oregon enacted a bottle bill to help diminish the number of glass and metal beverage containers discarded on roadsides, in forests, around lakes and so on. If a forum such as this had been around when the bottle bill was passed in the early 1970s, you can be dang sure thousands of grumblers would have posted about "paying for something that should be free" or "unnecessary government intrusion" or "taxes" or some other thing. But the bottle bill worked and, even though a consumer can get his or her dime back by returning the container, it might be considered a similar situation to this one where we're being asked to pay a tiny fee to maybe cut down on the number of these bags irresponsibly discarded around our lovely city. (But sorry, you can't get your dime — or whatever tiny amount you spend on new bags — back.)

Does restricting one item many people use as small trash liners, tote bags or even country luggage make a meaningful difference in the big scheme of life in wine country? Probably not but I think it might perhaps make people think about unnecessary packaging and minimizing waste. In theory, no one should be offended by such reasonable responsibility.

So, yes, I understand the annoyance of forgetting my bring-with-me bags and being compelled to buy replacements. I also miss my convenient (and free) bathroom trashcan liners. But this is a small price to pay to get everyone thinking about contributing less to the landfill and more to our collective less-litter well-being.

And finally, while I understand the intrusion on personal liberty this ban affords, I must admit to an affinity for a certain level of oversight. Without it, my neighborhood would undoubtedly be peppered with Pepto-Bismol-pink houses strewn with junk cars and broken appliances in 18-inch-weed-choked front yards. And I don't even live in a bad neighborhood.


I consider the charge for paper bags a tax. Taxation is theft, even if it is five to twenty cents.

I have two re-usable bags in my car for quick trips to the store. If I need more than two bags' worth, I have discovered that Newberg has an assortment of equally good stores. Problem solved. And, I will remember next election.

Ramsey McPhillips

Always risky responding to this kind of anonymous commentary but I feel it necessary to answer a few questions raised here as well as clear up some misunderstanding about the Bag It Better ordinance. 1). I am not the originator of the ordinance. It was organized over several years by a large public committee stemming from the organization, Zero Waste McMinnville. There were countless hearings and overwhelming support for this initiative by the local business community. 2). There is no “tax“ associated with this ordinance. The five cents goes to pay for the actual reimbursement cost of the paper bag. It’s a direct cost for a product that no one is forced to buy. Do you feel when you buy a loaf of bread that the plastic bag it comes in is a “tax” added to the cost of the bread? Of course not. There is no need for a McMinnville Tea Party revolt over paper bags because there is NO tax to revolt over! (Con’t)

Ramsey McPhillips

3). The carbon footprint of McMinnville’s waste going to Washington is less than going to Riverbend because Riverbend has to transport semi trucks of the resulting leachate to three separate waste water treatment plants outside of the county (18 semi trucks a day when it’s at full operation) and the new landfill we are using has its own waste water treatment plant on site. Our own MW & L waste water treatment plant won’t take these 18 semi trucks of leachate because it’s too toxic. This is a major reason Metro stopped using Riverbend ... ‘cause Riverbend is causing too much carbon footprint from transporting its own leachate waste! 4). Zero Waste McMinnville is well on its way to solving the Styrofoam problem in our waste stream. It’s a very complicated problem but Zero Waste McMinnville has been working on it for a long time and hope to have an outlet for us to recycle our Styrofoam soon. You all should come join this organization and help us make this happen! Or perhaps you could channel all the anger found here into something positive by helping us solve a particular waste issue that you see a problem... like what to do with the diapers.


Ramsey: Your explanation of the 5 cent cost of the paper bag misses the point. It should be left up to the business to decide what charge fits their business model. I resent paying for something that used to be free---"paper or plastic?" never cost me anything. This is not "free enterprise" it's forced by government control. And in the future when the prices react to the coming inflation I'm sure you will be in favor of raising the bag cost to 10 cents----to "help" the business. So that is why I, and others are voting with our wallets. Just did a quick estimate that I have not spent over two thousand dollars in two months in town. Enjoy the crusade and it's effects local business.
After this experience, I dread the "solution" you are working on for styrofoam.

Ramsey McPhillips

5). Five other cities in Oregon have also banned the single use plastic check out bag so I guess you will need to ideologically boycott Eugene, Portland, Corvallis, Forest Grove and Ashland, too. The California bag-illuminati is popping up everywhere! 6).The ordinance is working if you consider there is far less trash being picked up by the highway litter patrol along the sides of our roadways, the mixed recycling we are selling to the Portland market has been deemed “superior“ because it is far less contaminated with plastic bags that screw up their sorting machinery and McMinnville is getting positive national reconition for our Zero Waste and Bag It Better initiatives. I’m sorry the News Register reporter chose not to take time to research the positive aspects of the ordinance or to write about why the Bag It Better initiative’s is necessary to begin with. Interviewing someone from the city that passed the ordinance would’ve gone a long way In answering many of the concerns and addressing the big picture success of the ordinance so far. Negative clever quips are fun to read and sells papers but there is a bigger story here. (Con’t)

Ramsey McPhillips

7). As for the anonymous personal attacks on my character, here’s a few facts. I have lived on and off in McMinnville my entire life. I’m a native Oregonian and moved here permanently 27 years ago to take over my family’s 156 year old farm on the western border of the city’s urban growth boundary. You know the farm... right behind the heritage museum whose facility sits on land the Kaurer Family and I donated for that purpose. I started an energy efficiency business with offices on 3rd Street and behind Cook School that employs four full-time cooperative workers making family wage salaries and a multitude of part-time co-cooperative workers. Our clients include Linfield, the City of McMinnville and Evergreen. So yes, I have an actual stake in the City of McMinnville well beyond my grass seed farm. I have a degree in environmental studies and have always been deeply involved in working to protect the environment. I am proud of the work we are doing here in McMinnville to make less trash and pollution. Zero Waste is a lofty goal being adopted by most major (and some minor) municipalities across the country because it saves time and money and the planet for our kids! Yamhill County is slated to increase its population comparable to the entire city of McMinnville and half of Sheridan in the next 18 years. We sure could use your help to help educate everyone about sound waste prevention in preparation for this massive influx. We have removed literally millions of single plastic point sources from our local environment and the city and residences of Mac should feel proud of that achievement. 8). There are tons of video of me on the Internet showing me both humorous and intense. I’m a passionate guy having an incredible life that some people have found interesting. I can only wish all of you the same wonderful life that I’m experiencing.


Ramsey McPhillips

- [ ] 9). I WILL pay for everyone’s 5 cent paper bags in McMinnville if you personally go and pick up all the single use plastic shopping bags that are rolling along the sand like tumble weeds at the Oregon Coast. I’d work myself to the bone to pay to see that happen! Deal?

Happy Oregon’s birthday everyone!

Ramsry McPhillips


"bag-illuminati"....good one! :)


How about re-education camps, so popular in Vietnam and Cambodia? Or a Russian gulag?
Arbeit macht frei.


Ramsey, I am confused at the recycle center.You say that plastic bags are fouling the sorting machines----the mixed recycling we are selling to the Portland market has been deemed “superior“ because it is far less contaminated with plastic bags that screw up their sorting machinery------ Since we aren't allowed to put plastic bags in the recycle barrels this should be a "no problem". I

Don Dix

So, if Treehouse proclaims there are no true Scotsmen (one t), then please defend the councils' decision not to put this issue to a vote. Landslides aren't particularly encouraging, are they?

As for the bottle bill -- from my childhood, beer bottles were worth 1 cent upon return (pre cans). We had a whole group of 'volunteers' to clean up the neighborhood ditches. The only difference is more containers are included today -- one small detail, the deposit has now increased 1000%!

Ramsey McPhillips


Sounds like you get the proper way to use your recycling bin and I do but obviously a vast number do not and it costs us all more in the long run cause the quality of our recycling content is diminished. Same with road litter plastic getting into the county’s water ways. I don’t throw it there but yet it is sick the way it is clogging our streams and river. If you have a better way to assure elimination of litter and plastic pollution and recycling contamination let us know! I’m all ears.


Ramsey says: Businesses in McMinnville "overwhelmingly support" the bag ban. Gee, I wonder why? He and his buddies tell business owners that they not only can stop paying for the plastic bags they've been using to bag our groceries but now they can start charging us for them, thus eliminating a business expense and creating a new profit center all in one fell swoop. Whats not to like about that? And the angry customers? Don't worry, they'll get over it. Pretty sneaky.
Without that bribe to the businesses you know damn well this whole bag ban would have been dead on arrival.
I applaud your passion to help protect the environment but using sneaky and subversive tricks to force everyone to comply against their will is very authoritarian and against the democratic values that make this country other rammed this through and hoisted it upon the people of McMinnville without allowing them to vote on it. Shame on you!


Ramsy, I have never seen the figures on the recycling program. It's been reported that some areas actually have programs that cost taxpayers money-----what is the balance sheet on costs versus returns---in money not benefits to the ocean and such. Just what are the expenditures


Ramsey I think your passion for what you believe in is great. I think some of your points need a little work though. First of all picking up bags at the coast has nothing to do with McMinnville,next if you want to be like California move there,the other city's you mentioned are all pretty far to the left in their thinking and this is still a pretty conservative town. I know your generation wants to change the world and that is great but it needs to slow down a little. One step at a time. Your environmental community has stepped in to my passion of steelhead fishing and have done nothing but screw it up. Slow down its called a democracy for a reason and we all need to help make these decisions.

Ramsey McPhillips

Now I’m in the quick sand I feared by engaging this forum! Oh well. A lot you are saying has merit. But the fact remains... there is a local problem with plastic, limited resources and an exploding human population. 5 cents hardly seems a lot to try and stem the problem. Why are you not just bringing your own reusable bag? I’m part of a group that actually removed a huge pollution source... you all just seem to be pissed for your own personal inconvience. I don’t think this is a liberal assumption. Once again, I’m not seeing you all coming up with an alternative solution. The worlds beaches are now primarily made up of particulate plastic, not sand. Does this not bother any of you to the point of wanting to do something? We worked years to pass this ordinance... in clear daylight. Where were all you? I’m not a dilettante - I have four jobs and still found time to do something that I believe in to protect the environment for all of us.

I love the steelhead, too... I manage two salmon tribe and 5 miles of river on my farm and have tried very hard to protect the fish from the leaking riverbank landfill. Not sure kind Sir which generation you think I’m from but I’m 60 and have been an registered independent voter all my life. My biggest environmental role models have all been conservatives.

I’m going to sign off now. You get the last word... have at it - rip me to shreds but remember; I’m not the main person behind this ordinance, just one of its many supporters. I have no idea who you all are but I hope you use all your passion in some way to make the environment safer for the next generation. It’s only going to get worse what with more and more people and our limited resources.

Wish you all well.



Thanks for coming on here and discussing it Ramsey. After reading your posts I can tell you're a man of good will and good character with good intentions. We still don't agree on this issue but I do respect your willingness to engage and discuss.


Ramsey our family has been recycling for 20 + years including the dreaded bags from the grocery store. I think it is a drastic change for a lot of people that have never had to remember a cloth bag for the store. Me included and we have cloth bags in every vehicle. I don't care about paying for a paper bag but I do care when a small committee of people changeing the lives of 35,000 people for their own beliefs. We have come a long way in cleaning up this country and we need to continue to clean it up more but it needs to be a group effort. Maybe educating the public on what needs to be done and then voting on it would be more appropriate. If you are wondering who I am my Dad and Uncles installed the wood sign that was at the end of your driveway.


To me the bottom line is: Why do we to pay for something that was already free? is not about the nickle. Most of us are able to pay for it.


Honda Guy: The aim is to discourage you from using paper and encourage you to use cloth. The hope is that the charge will annoy you enough to persuade you to bring your own bags.
As you can see from the comments posted on this forum, it works for some people, not for others. I don't think there is any doubt though that it serves to increase cloth bag usage to some extent.


Thanks for the reply Steve. Is does makes sense because it is annoying indeed paying for bags.


Personally, I am grateful for motivated people like Ramsey McPhillips. While I sympathize with Lulu's correct condemnation of those who habitually like to protect me from myself, I also recognize when correction is warranted. (Unfortunately, in Oregon the correction mindset runs rampant — the Democrats in charge do seem to enjoy imposing their sometimes unyielding ideologies and constraints on pretty much everyone else. It seems astonishingly arrogant to me, yet Oregonians seem to accept it as normal.) Whatever the case, true progress demands actual change from time to time — it's been proven necessary regularly throughout human history.

What worries me most in forums such as this is the seeming inability for the majority to admit (or even understand) that the truth often lies closer to the center than their dogma permits. Despite what many locals seem to think, McPhillips is not espousing a one-sided philosophy.


UV light destroys plastic bags in just one summer. Free-markets USUALLY find the best solutions to BEST-USES-OF-MATERIALS, as is proof in world history of Greece, Rome, Europe, ......The United States.... and anti-examples such as Rome again, Soviet Union, Venezuela,...and future The US?



Good progressive policy.

Lots of misplaced indignation. Very humorous. Adjust, or don’t.

Next, ban plastic cups and straws.

Every bit helps.


"I can only wish all of you the same wonderful life I am experiencing." What a self-righteous, disingenuous statement addressed, obviously, to all us aw-shucks nitwits whose lives never included privileges attached from birth.
Actually, it reminds me of the "Richard Cory" poem--which didn't turn out so well, did it?


Gosh Lulu... I didn’t get that impression at all.... could it be jealousy creeping into your post?


Gosh, tagup, why would I envy someone who lives by a dump?


No idea, but lots of people desire things they don’t have...


Yes, tagup, I always fancied being slowly choked to death and feel starlings and seagulls enucleate my eyeballs.

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