The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
December 10, 2008

Dec 18: Day Without A (Disposable) Bag


Have you all seen the recent article in the NY Times about the decreased market for recycled materials? Apparently, much of the cardboard, newspaper, metals, and plastic that we toss in our recycling bins is piling up and making its way to landfills, as recycling contractors are unable to find buyers for the stuff.

I’ve said it before. Recycling is important, but it’s not the final answer. Decreasing our dependence on disposables in the first place is more important now than ever. And one of our first steps can be giving up, and encouraging others to give up, disposable bags.

Heal The Bay in Los Angeles County has declared December 18 a Day Without A Bag. Read what they have to say about it, and then continue reading to find out how you can stage your own “Day Without A Bag.”

Day Without A Bag, held annually in the month of December, is a public awareness campaign to urge shoppers to give a present to the environment, in the spirit of the holiday season, by foregoing disposable plastic and paper bags in favor of reusable totes.

Single-use plastic bags were first introduced in 1977 and now account for four out of every five grocery bags handed out at grocery stores. Public agencies in California spend more than $300 million annually in litter cleanup. Fewer than 5% of plastic grocery bags are recycled each year, so the remainder clogs precious landfill, litters public spaces and harms animal life when the bags blow into waterways. Paper bags, while biodegradable, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and water pollutants during the production process.

Last year’s Day Without A Bag was successfully launched by a coalition of community groups, environmental organizations and local governments in Los Angeles County. Tens of thousands of reusable bags were handed out at more than a dozen high-profile shopping centers throughout the region and included a diverse mix of retailers including Ralphs, Whole Foods, 99 Cents Only and Bed Bath & Beyond chains.

This inaugural event laid a strong foundation for subsequent campaigns against the proliferation of single-use shopping bags and created momentum at the local and state level for advancing legislation.

In addition to participating in this year’s Day Without A Bag in Southern California, why not plan and hold your own? Get your community to participate. Or your school. Hold it whenever it is convenient for you. Why wait until next December?

I met Heal The Bay’s Sonia Diaz at the CAPP (Campaign Against the Plastic Plague) Conference in October. During her presentation, she explained the steps for creating a Day Without A Bag, and she was kind enough to forward me materials as well as her contact info for anyone who is interested in making Day Without A Bag happen where you live:


The Green Office

I only post ads for products I use myself. Your support helps to fund my plastic-free mission.

Sonia Diaz
Legislative Associate
Heal the Bay
Ph: (310) 451-1500 x 165
Fax: (310) 496-1902
E-mail: sdiaz[at]healthebay[dot]org

So, if you live in Southern California, please spread the word about December 18. And if you don’t, consider creating your own Day Without A Bag wherever you live. And then let us know about it!

Leave a Reply

10 Comments on "Dec 18: Day Without A (Disposable) Bag"

Notify of

Sort by:   newest | oldest
7 years 10 months ago

It’s depressing to think that people are recycling and that it ends up in the landfill anyway. Reducing really has to be the way to go…..

7 years 10 months ago

I wish I had seen this post earlier, but I’m excited to be coordinating our reusable bag giveaway in San Francisco on Dec. 18 from 12p to 3pm in Union Square.

Surfrider’s San Francisco Chapter and OceanHealth.Org will be handing out as many bags as we can to holiday shoppers.

We’re also hosting a virtual event for people who can’t join us, but want to celebrate the day:

I can’t wait to see all the results from around the country!

Fake Plastic Fish
7 years 10 months ago

Regarding pet mess bags: please read my post about what happens to “biodegradable” bags in a landfill situation. Not a good idea.

Also, check out Citizen Green’s excellent analysis of the choices for trash bags:

7 years 10 months ago

There are biodegradable bags made for the purpose of picking up pet messes. Most of them seem to be made out of corn, which is a whole issue in itself, but at least they do break down.

heather t
7 years 10 months ago

Kim – even when I remember to bring my reusable bags to the store(getting better!), plastic bags still find their way into our house from bread, apples, tortillas, newspaper delivery, cereal box liners, frozen veggies, paper product wrappers, etc etc etc ad nauseum.

I’m guessing that most of us who haven’t quite reached Beth’s anti-plastic level have some plastic bags floating around to use for these icky jobs.

7 years 10 months ago

We take reusable bags when we shop most of the time but since we use plastic bags for cleaning up our dogs’ messes we occasionally skip our cloth bags. We do you propose as a substitute for plastic bags for that purpose or for trash cans? Since we take our trash to the dump every 6 weeks or so I’m not sure I would be up to leaving the cans without some kind of liner.

7 years 10 months ago

Everyday is Day Without A (Disposable) Bag” in this house, and I don’t see why it can’t be elsewhere! Picture me, a big fat burly plumber happily walking into to Home Depot/Lowes with a reuseable bag. The trick is to watch those wily clerks and stop them when their instinct is to sneak your purchases into a plastic bag and say I brought my own bag. And then when they realize you aint talking about your wife or mother, they catch on!

Green Bean
7 years 10 months ago

I read about the market dropping out of the recycling industry this week. You are so right! Recycling is great but the first R is to reduce. Thanks for keeping this on everyone’s radar screen.

7 years 10 months ago

I just blogged about this today, too! We have no organized effort here, but I figure it wouldn’t be difficult for people in the community to do this on their own for one day. I’m planning to give away a couple of string market bags I’ve made.

This is my first time commenting, so I wanted to add that I’ve gotten so many good ideas here at your blog. Thank you!

7 years 10 months ago

This post is so timely for me! I am on a committee in West Lafayette, IN that is just beginning to plan a bag giveaway event. That is our first step to publicizing the issue. Our goal is to eventually tax or ban plastic bags here. Thanks for the information.

Linda A