Plastic Bag Monster Terrorizes Westlake Center

Made up of 500 plastic bags, Keller's costume represents the number used by the average American each year.

Surrounded by a sea of plastic bags, the bag monster went to work around lunchtime today at Westlake Center. The end result looked more like a giant knot of plastic than installation art, but activist Andy Keller, the bag monster's alter-ego, says that his cross-country campaign is intended to rally support for the bag ban now being considered in California, Oregon and other coastal states.

Dressed in a Velcro suit of plastic, Keller looked like one of the impostor chickens in the Foster Farms commercials. He pulled long scarves of plastic out of cloth bags and set to work composing the junkyard masterpiece in a concrete clearing in front of Westlake. Passersby stopped to marvel at the installation, but rarely stopped to question Keller.

Keller hopes that his 45,000-piece (the average amount of single-use bags consumed in an individual's lifetime) mobile installation will help his audience visualize the environmental effects of the waste. Stepping back into his alter-ego, he explained his devious plan for a "plastic Utopia." "The plastic debris takes years to disintegrate and often ends up at the bottom of the ocean, where it's ingested by marine life," says Keller. (Geez, let's give the sea creatures a break after the BP debacle.)

Plastic bag bans mostly affect grocery stores, convenience stores and drug stores, but a 20-cent fee for the use of plastic or paper bags didn't sit well with tax-weary Seattleites. The referendum was soundly defeated by 53 percent of voters in August of 2009. Undaunted, Seattle City Council members, among them Tim Burgess, are revisiting the possibility of a bag ban, citing Edmonds as an example of a nearby municipality that's doing things right. Edmonds' bag ban passed in July of 2009 and will go into effect this month after a year-long campaign designed to educate citizens about reusable alternatives.

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