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:
- Day Without A Bag info & materials on Heal The Bay web site
- Steps For Day Without A Bag (PDF file)
- Letter to City Seeking Resolution (editable Word doc)
- Day Without a Bag sample resolution (editable Word doc)
Heal the Bay
Ph: (310) 451-1500 x 165
Fax: (310) 496-1902
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!