YAC Sustainable Shopping Initiative Q&A with Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith has a vision for how Hillsboro can maintain its quality of life in the future. Just 16 years old, Ryan attends Glencoe High School and is part of the Hillsboro Youth Advisory Council (YAC) subcommittee focused on sustainable shopping, along with Kya Dillon, Luda Isakharov, Nisala Kalupahana, Hanna Kane, Julia Notz, Tasha Robinson, and Kelly Xu.
Ryan, what is YAC’s Sustainable Shopping Initiative?
Our idea revolves around reducing plastic usage while shopping. Every year, the average American family takes home nearly 1,500 single-use plastic bags, which are used for an average of 12 minutes.
When these bags have served their purpose, they are discarded. It’s no secret that plastic can last for thousands of years in landfills — and, if it finds its way into rivers, streams, or oceans, it can harm species we depend on. YAC members like myself hope to reduce such pollution by getting rid of single-use plastic bags in some of our Hillsboro checkout aisles.
How would reducing plastic bags make an impact?
Local rivers and streams would likely see a reduction in pollution from plastic bags, which would not only increase the aesthetic appeal of our city, but also make our local environment a healthier place for wildlife. By joining ranks with cities and states across the nation (including Forest Grove, Portland, Corvallis, and Eugene) that have already taken action to reduce plastic bag use, Hillsboro would do its part in making a truly global difference.
Some studies suggest that grocery stores would save money in the long-term, as customers switch from plastic and paper to reusable bags. Reducing plastic bag use also would benefit the local recycling industry, where plastic bags frequently get tangled up in equipment — a situation which not only costs money, but also puts workers’ safety at risk.
What are YAC members doing to support the Sustainable Shopping Initiative?
For the past few months, we’ve focused on outreach to the community, to business partners, and to other stakeholders. We launched a community survey and have been delighted to find that preliminary results suggest strong support for the policy. We also will attend a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in September to hear business leaders’ questions and comments.
Why are you and other YAC members motivated about this issue?
My YAC friends and I want to grow up and inherit a clean, sustainable world. We want Hillsboro to be leading the way to this better future, just like our city always has done. This future won’t happen without effort; it will require careful planning and smart resource management. But I know Hillsboro is up to the task. Making our shopping more sustainable is a step in the right direction.