Youth group holds protest against lease agreement for soda bottler


Members of Thurston Youth Climate Coalition held a protest against plans to lease an airport property in Tumwater to Swire, a Coca-Cola bottler, during The Tumwater City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 17.

Six youth leaders staged a die-in, laying down on the floor in front of the council members for 22 minutes as if to appear dead.

Elsie Sabel, leader of the coalition, said that approving the lease for a Coca-Cola bottler would not be in line with the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan (TCMP), which the city adopted in 2021.

“Signing away our natural resources to a company that has been voted the worst plastic polluter in the world for five years running is not only idiotic, it makes it nearly impossible for you to reach the targets laid out in the TCMP,” Sable said during public comments.

Sable took issue with the length of the lease agreement, which could last for 75 years. Swire intends to use the 95-acre property to construct a manufacturing site.

Sabel highlighted the importance of implementing the TCMP, which outlined a framework for how the county would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The coalition made three demands:

  • For the city council to pass an implementation strategy
  • For the council to create climate policies that synergize with public health, equity, and the local economy
  • For the council to develop emergency procedures and to free up emergency funds in line with the city’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2021.

Sabel told The JOLT that their coalition is a group of climate action clubs across different schools in Thurston County. The group plans to return at a future city council meeting, which according to Sable, would remind the city council that they are monitoring the council’s progress.