It has been pointed out the word “tax” can be a hot-button issue, as there are many stakeholders who are strongly opposed to increasing taxes on citizens. Therefore, a “tax” can immediately alienate a policymaker, business leader, and individual residents alike. A similar reaction can actually be had by different – or the same! – groups when proposing a blanket “ban” policy on single-use bags or other items. Therefore, focusing on the outcome rather than approach in naming the policy can help remind all stakeholders of the intent of the policy. One solution is framing plastic bag regulations as “reusable bag laws” instead of “bans” or “fees”, since encouraging the use of reusable bags is the intended outcome.

It’s also important to message from a variety of angles, since different messages will speak differently to different people. For some it will be the environmental messages that plastic bags plague streets, parks, waterways, and the ocean, for some the taxpayers dollars used to clean up trash, and for others the health impacts for people and/or animals.

A communications strategy is an important tool for engagement. Develop new or recruit existing allies in the media. Reach out to print, radio, and/or television news media at key points in the process. Think about which legislators need pressure to support the legislation and target media in those areas. Use social media to engage supporters and provide a clear call to action with each message. various forms of media including press conferences and releases, social media (including hashtags, engage with reporters), newspapers – good LTEs/OpEds.