Local woman bolts past plastic bag ban with cloth totes


Grab a bag at the Milwaukie Quilt Show!

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — At the beginning of the year, a new Oregon law went into effect that banned plastic shopping bags. But one local woman has a plan to help the environment that’s ahead of the curve.

Five years ago, Terri Geier-Brindell moved to Oregon and never looked back.

Terri Geier-Brindell laughs from behind her sewing machine. (KOIN)

“I moved here and just went, ‘Wow,'” said Geier-Brindell. She praises the progressive environmental laws and even helped pass one last year.

“We got plastic bags banned in Milwaukie because we have a wonderful mayor and city council,” said Geier-Brindell. “And then we started making the grocery bags to replace the plastic bags—it just keeps going.”

Geier-Brindell then started a so-called sewing club to make cloth bags. The group has finished about 2,000 bags to give away at farmer’s markets, community gardens, and schools.

“I just had an idea and I tell someone, and they go, ‘Oh, each, let’s go do that,'” said Geier-Brindell. “It takes off—it’s amazing.”

The retired teacher didn’t stop there.

She now collects styrofoam that would otherwise be in a landfill.

“It’s only been going on for two-and-a-half weeks and we’ve gotten two truck-loads of styrofoam,” she said. Geier-Brindell uses grants she got to rent a U-Haul to transport it to Agilyx—a local company with facilities in Tigard that was the first to develop a way to recycle styrofoam.

“That’s all you have to do is find the right people with a little bit of knowledge about what to do to get it done,” said Geier-Brindell.

Geier-Brindell is nowhere near done though when it comes to protecting the environment.

Styrofoam collected for recycle. (KOIN)

If you’re interested, the styrofoam drop-off is at Exceed Enterprises in Milwaukie. As for Geier-Brindell, she said she’s looking for sewing volunteers. She can teach anyone who is interested, and you don’t even need to bring the fabric—it’s all donated. If that’s still too intimidating, Geier-Brindell said she needs helpers of all kinds to press the fabric, sort it, and cut it into shape.

For those interested in picking up a cloth bag of their own, they will be available at the quilt show at the Milwaukie Center at the end of March.

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