The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
April 27, 2011

Ban The Plastic Bag Book Giveaway

Ban the Plastic Bag bookMonday night, I attended a showing of the film Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? in San Francisco, finally getting to see it in a real theater on a real screen. Then, the following day, the Santa Clara, CA Board of Supervisors passed a ban on plastic bags and a 15 cent fee on paper bags.

So, what can you do to reduce plastic bag pollution in your community? There are resources out there to help you.

1) The Plastic Pollution Coalition has put together a Bag Ban Tool Kit, which they’ve posted on their new site, Plasticfree Times. The toolkit compiles many useful links on community organizing for bag bans and fees from all over the Internet.

2) The Bag It filmmakers want to help your community become a Bag It Town, and they too have created a toolkit to help.

3) My Plastic-free Life reader Alyssa Pasquale, who guest posted here two years ago, has an extra copy of the resource book, Ban the Plastic Bag, to give away to one U.S. reader of this blog. Ban the Plastic Bag is written by Rebecca Hosking, who worked to get a voluntary bag ban in her town in Modbury, England. The book is so small it can fit in the palm of your hand, but it’s chock full of information. I had to order my copy from Amazon UK, but all you have to do is leave a comment here to get one for yourself.

Alyssa’s Story

Here’s what Alyssa wrote me:

Five years ago, I finally became an adult. I moved into an apartment and started paying rent, cleaning up after myself, and buying groceries. I quickly became overloaded with plastic bags, and then realized that there were options. I always loved to bring tote bags shopping, so why not to the grocery stores? The strange looks I got at the check-out aisles at my local Price Chopper made me feel like a self-righteous hippie at times, but I was glad to do away with all of the plastic waste. I was also able to carry all of my groceries in two hefty tote bags instead of 10 flimsy plastic bags.

These days many retailers have awakened to a public who is more hesitant to blindly accept plastic bags. My local Whole Foods doesn’t even carry plastic bags at check-out anymore (although they still offer plastic produce bags), and no longer do I get strange looks when I bring tote bags to the more conventional grocery chains.

But imagine living in a city, county, state or country that doesn’t even pose the dilemma of “paper or plastic.” Rebecca Hosking’s book Ban the Plastic Bag details some very successful campaigns in the UK that have led to bans on the plastic bag. This book proves that a dedicated group of individuals does have the power to change local laws and help aid the environment, which is a nice antidote to depressing tales of climate change and pollution. I’m hopeful that similarly dedicated individuals in the US can learn from this book and help lead to plastic bag bans on this side of the Atlantic.

Win a Copy of the Book

To enter to win a copy of the book, please leave a comment here letting us know what you personally have done or plan to do about plastic bag waste, pollution, and litter in your community. Ideas could be as simple as remembering to bring your own bags to bringing extra bags to give to strangers who forget theirs, talking to store merchants, talking to your city council, picking up bags you see on the street, etc. I just want to know that everyone is involved in some way.

1) You get one point for leaving your comment here on this blog.  Update: Be sure and read the paragraph above first.  Your comment needs to include “what you personally have done or plan to do about plastic bag waste, pollution, and litter in your community.”

2) You get another point for leaving your comment on the My Plasticfree Life Facebook page. (Hint: you have to “Like” the page before you can leave a comment.)  Update: Your Facebook comment should also include “what you personally have done or plan to do about plastic bag waste, pollution, and litter in your community.”

3) You get still another point for posting a plastic bag related photo on the My Plasticfree Life Facebook page. Photos could be of plastic bag litter or of you carrying a reusable bag or anything else that might motivate people visually to care about reducing plastic bag production and waste.

We will choose a winner by the end of next week.

I’m leaving for my semi-annual meditation retreat tomorrow and may not have a chance to post again before next week.  So please leave lots of comments and share ideas about reducing plastic bag waste.  Our strength is our power to communicate with each other.

43 Responses to “Ban The Plastic Bag Book Giveaway”

  1. Brandi says:

    I have been using my reusable grocery bags for a while now when I go to the store. I have also purchased mesh reusable fruit/vegetable bags to use in the produce section of the grocery store. When the cashier asks me about them (which they always do) I tell them where I got them and why I use them. I have also gone to my daughter’s classroom recently (while they were doing a unit on recycling) and brought each child (and teacher) in the classroom a grocery bag that I made from upcycled tshirts. I also explained to them how they could use other bags at the grocery store also, instead of plastic bags! I have also recently converted my kitchen to plastic free and while doing this I have convinced my sister to do the same. I am slowly trying to make my house as plastic free as possible! I am soooooooooo glad that I have found this website to help me in my journey!

  2. Kate says:

    I also recently watched Bag It… I grew up in the “odd” family who carted mom’s handmade giant canvas bags everywhere and the practice stuck! I despise the single use bag and feel immense guilt when, on the way to the store, I realize I’ve forgotten my totes! Bag It was a great reminder that we all can- and must- do something to reduce this unnecessary waste and that there is more to be done. I have contacted my local large chain grocer about initiating a bag fee or at least a small refund for bringing your own bags, and have written to my local legislators about the issue. I’m really looking for ways to join a bigger movement in my state and city (Pittsburgh) to do something real about plastic waste…

  3. Andy Curshen says:

    I live in Glen Rock NJ. I am a member of the Glen Rock Ecological Commission with a responsibility to reduce plastic waste in the town. To that end I have presented a proposal to the borough government to enact an ordinance to reduce plastic bag distribution. This would be accomplished by requiring retailers to charge a 20 cent fee for all bags given to shoppers and that the bags be made of plastic at least 3 mils thick. This would very quickly reduce the number of bags distributed by at least 50% and in addition the thicker bags can now be be reused hundreds of times. In China, India, Ireland, American Samoa, Maui and dozens of other places, such programs have reduced plastic bags in circulation by up to 90%. The final objective is to change the public’s perception about free single use bags altogether and let them see that bringing their own reusable bag is a much better environmental practice than taking flimsy, free, single use bags every time they buy something. These free bags aren’t ‘free’ at all. The billions and billions of them made each year use huge amounts of oil – enough to run all of our cars for a year. They are a blight on the countryside and in the cities. The damage they inflict on the environment, in the waters, on land, to animals, fish and birds is catastrophic; a septic smear on the face of the planet.

  4. ProjectGreenBag says:

    Project GreenBag is the sustainable alternative to plastic bags. Reusable bags from organic cotton, affordable and made in California!!/projectgreenbag

  5. Amy says:

    I am really encouraged when I hear that more places are banning plastic bags AND charging for paper bags.

    Lea (comment #23) made a good point about the importance of grocery store employees framing the bag question in such a way that encourages people to bring their own bags. I would love it if instead of asking “paper or plastic” shoppers were asked “did you bring a reusable bag with you today”

    Hey Lea – maybe you could organize a showing of BAG IT at your store for the employees.

    Amy :)

  6. Celia Kiewit says:

    Yes, comments posted last night. Why aren’t they here on the list? Am I doing something wrong?

  7. Celia Kiewit says:

    Beth, Can’t find the posts I offered last night.

  8. terrible person says:

    When I first saw the headline, “Ban the Plastic Bag Book Giveaway”, I thought that someone was giving away a book about plastic bags, and you wanted to stop that. It was hard to figure out that “Ban the Plastic Bag” was the title of the book, and you were giving it away.

  9. Allyson says:

    I wish we had a plastic bag ban where I live.
    Coming home from the grocery store I saw a woman carrying about ten plastic shopping bags to her apartment. And then there’s me with my measly two canvas bags filled with twice the amount of stuff as her. I must admit I felt a little proud of myself.
    I haven’t brought but one plastic bag into my home since I found your blog back in January. (We had a little oops moment at Borders a while back.) I also use paper bags at the grocery store for produce instead of the plastic ones they provide. And I’ve been meaning to crochet some produce bags so that I can save the paper, too.
    Also, I’ve become a lot more mindful when shopping. If something is wrapped in a ridiculous amount of plastic, I skip it & find it on eBay or something. I’ve also been posting lots of interesting facts & such on my Facebook page for my friends to see even though a lot of them hate me for it & think I’m a hippie. It doesn’t deter me though. I just keep at it just in case someone out there cares. :)

  10. Alexandra says:

    Here in Wellfleet, MA, we tried last week at town meeting to require bio-degradable packaging and banning single-use plastic bags. The Selectmen, thinking it would be bad for business, indefinitely postponed the article, to our chagrin. I hope it will be reproposed next fall. Apparently Southhampton NY succeeded that same week.

  11. I don’t use plastic produce bags, i buy my veg loose or use a paper bag, I carry two reusable cloth bags with me at all times to use for when i buy things, I pick litter every week as part of my voluntary work for a local river conservation trust, I buy products that are minimally packaged where possible,

  12. Sarah R says:

    I am very interested in reading more with the Ban the Plastic Bag book, but for now, my family and i have been living a much “greener” lifestyle over the last one to two years. As far as reducing plastics, we use only the reusable bags for grocery shopping, and I encourage my friends and family to use their bags as well. I even carry a pocket bag that folds up in my purse for times when I wasn’t planning on shopping (clothes/food) but always have a bag on hand. I do want to do more though.

  13. Karen e says:

    I had the opportunity to watch Bag It last weekend. Wonderful information. I already use reusable bags for shopping and keep a couple folded in my purse for unexpected purchases. I also have smaller net bags to use for produce. I need to make some fabric bags for bulk foods as well. I’ve nearly eliminated plastics from my storage containers, opting for glass instead. Instill have a ways to go, but I’m working on eliminating as much plastic from my life as possible.

  14. eri says:

    I’ve been actively participating in the movement since 1989, since I’ve found your website I have been more aware than ever. My poor spouse listens patiently as I say, “Beth says…” I respect and admire all the ways in which you have tried to cut plastic out of your life. I just wish I could do the same.

    I’m trying to get my mom and my spouse to be more aware themselves. My mom unfortunately keeps bringing plastic home! My spouse is much better than before. The people at the local Walgreens know that I don’t use plastic and people often are shocked when I pull a Chico bag out of my small purse, my spouse calmly explains that I’m an environmentalist. I try, that’s the best I can do along with talking to people who will listen. I try to not preach because if you want to turn someone off your cause that is the fastest way.

    Please keep enlightening the little people in the ways in which you have reduced. You are my hero in this area of my life! :) (Free is always good!)

  15. Peter says:

    Already happening in Australia……..banned in some States already, legislation already passed by most others, in operation by end of 2011.

  16. TraciFree says:

    Mothers day gift to myself: re-useable produce bags from Flup & Tumble. No produce purchase I make is worthy of a bag that will be around For.Ev.Er.

  17. Jo Ellen Ryals says:

    My daughter, my hero, has shared her knowledge with me on plastic waste. This is the key….communicate your knowledge to others and make them aware. I believe people live day to day without thinking about the large picture of something that may seem so small.
    I use my canvas bags when I go to the store like many people do and I try to buy products that do not have a plastic “window” in the box or plastic wrapping.
    Just recently I got my glass straw and am encouraging others to do the same.
    Thank you for your website and thank you to my daughter Becca for making me more aware.

  18. Ellen says:

    Hi Beth,

    I don’t accept plastic bags from stores, instead bringing my reusable canvas bags, or using my (large) purse for just a few items. There are so many plastic bags blowing around my neighborhood, so when I walk my dog I bring home however many I find. Sometimes they are wet and muddy so I hang them in my basement to dry. Then I use them as poop bags for my dog. I have two children, ages 9 and 11, and on Earth Day we picked up litter, including many recyclables, from a small (but litter-packed) strip of dirt near our house. They were very proud of themselves and I was proud of them too!


  19. Lea says:

    I actually work at a grocery store, where paper and reusable bags are encouraged, but we still offer plastic. I hattttee giving out plastic bags for all of the reasons you discuss on your blog, but my dilemma has always been how to deal with customers that ask for plastic bags out of habit. I’ve tried to change the way I ask customers how they would like to carry their groceries out, and never, ever use plastic unless they specifically request it (I hate to do it, but it’s a sort of ” the customer is always right” scenario).

    Just wanted to make the point that just because I hand out plastic bags to the occasional (oblivious) customer, it’s mostly because I have to, and certainly not because I want to… I’ve even tried to start a dialogue about how problematic plastic is, and in some cases, have changed some regular customers’ habits. Anti-plastic activism can go the other way too! :)

  20. Laura A. says:

    I’ve been trying to attack plastic use on several fronts-

    Personal: I’ve been tracking (and drastically reducing!) my plastic waste here on My Plastic Free Life for a few months now. I’ve started requesting “no straw” at restaurants.

    Government: I’ve talked to the chair of my town council about my dissatisfaction with our waste disposal policy. I’ve talked to another member of the town council about ways to monitor and reduce the impact of cruise ships visiting our town and why local stores don’t need to provide plastic bags. I’ve discussed out recycling facilities with the town Conservation Commission.

    Businesses: I’ve written letters to several local restaurants asking them to stop giving out plastic straws. I’ve complained to both local grocery stores about the excessive use of plastic in the produce dept. as well as at the deli counter. I’ve started planning ahead and bringing my own takeout containers to restaurants.

  21. sui says:

    I noticed that even though my housemates have a LOT of reusable bags, they came home often with lots of plastic bags. My housemate even told me that he used to “punish” himself by buying a new reusable bag each time he forgot. I then suggested kindly that they remember more to bring the bags with them when they go shopping, and now they do! And I always remind my partner about plastic use and when we don’t have a reusable bag, we just carry all our groceries in our arms. :)

  22. Anne says:

    I’m trying to make things better by using my own cloth bags, including ones for produce, when I go out. I recently sewed cloth bags for our CSA to use instead of the nasty plastic ones. I’ve got a bunch of old t-shirts I plan on sewing up into bags to donate to some of the booths at our local farmers’ market so they won’t need to use plastic all of the time. It’s not nearly enough, but it’s a start. Hopefully I’m, also, setting a good example for our children.

  23. ocean c. says:

    i don’t know if it’s too late to win the book but i thought i’d share my story anyway.
    i’ve been passionate about environmental causes since i was 9 (i just turned 29!). that year i read “50 simple things kids can do to save the earth” and it changed my life. i ordered a reusable canvas bag to carry my lunch in from an earth-friendly catalogue (or rather, my mom ordered it for me!). i got made fun of SO much for having a “weird” lunch bag, to the point where i gave up on it eventually.
    anyway, one of my best friends growing up was from a republican cop family. they loved me, and i them, but the universal attitude was that i was a little off, partially because of my bag-reusing ways. 2 years ago, for my birthday, my friend called me up and for some reason we got on the subject of plastic bags. she had a hippie-ish boyfriend who was an intense environmentalist & he’d convinced her to start using a tote, and she’d realized that using plastic bags is a bad idea for everyone. she said, “you knew, all those years ago, and all we did was make fun of you. and you were right! i’m so sorry.” it was the best present of all!

  24. connie curtis says:

    I love your website.. its bringing awareness on a large level. I know its inspired me to keep looking at where I can take plastic out.. I have even enrolled roommates in using glass glasses instead of plastic. I just purchased organic cotton bags to put produce and bulk items in. It felt great to not have to use plastic for green beans or mushrooms. I am a stand that whole foods stop using plastic for produce items too. I am looking for food storage containers that are glass or stainless steel without plastic lids even bpa since I am learning the other chemicals used in making bpa plastic havent been approved or tested..

  25. NW Homesteader says:

    I bring my own bags to the grocery store, and anywhere that I may need them. When I do come across plastic bags, I take them to the recycle centers in the store entrances.

  26. Leah says:

    Hi Beth!

    Thanks for the valuable information that you post on here! I am a 21 year old college student on a quest to go zero waste! I get some interesting looks, mainly questioning ones, when I bring my jars up to the meat counter or use cloth bags for produce! Just because I’m young doesn’t mean I can’t do anything, especially being on a college campus— it’s so easy to be a positive influence. I have mentioned/discussed getting campus wide compost bins; tons of food is wasted on college campuses!

    Enjoy your retreat!


  27. carmen says:

    I use cloth bags and crocheted a few produce bags…I am encouraging my almost 16 year daughter and her friends and they are listening and doing the same thing…My daughters friends are in turn teaching their family and it is beginning to snowball…I talk about not using plastic water bottles and if they come into their home to at least recycle…First reduce is what we are striving for…

  28. Alyssa Lee says:

    As a student at UCLA, I haven’t made as many widespread changes as I would have hoped, but I have within my own little environmental club E3. For our Earth Day Fair (which was last Thursday), I asked everyone to participate in the plastic challenge to some extent and collect their plastic and give to me for my recycled item/plastic art project (which was a mini plastic quilt and a large mural of the UCLA logo made out of plastic wrappers. I’ll post a picture to your wall!). We collected a lot even trying to be conscious and I hoped that it was eye-opening for some to see the BAGS of trash we had to sort through at meeting. I hope to continue this and to build onto our plastic quilt to eventually donate to the International Plastic Quilt project!

    I also talked with members of UCLA Sustainability about getting rid of styrofoam take-out containers at ALL of the UCLA restaurants – not just the campus restaurants and cafes but the other chain restaurants like Panda Express and Rubios. I also talked with them about helping to make clearer labels for all the trash bins so that we can be closer to reaching out Zero Waste by 2012 goal!

    Last, I attended A Conversation with Julia Butterfly Hill and Daryl Hannah last week and it was AMAZING. They were both completely inspiring and had so many amazing things to say! I also registered with the Green Party at the event.

    Thank you for all that you do, Beth, and keep being an inspiration!

  29. Linda Smith says:

    I would love to check out that book! :) We use reusable bags but I rarely see anyone else use them. It would be great to start something here in South Carolina.

  30. Just got a copy of Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff. I would love to read this small one as well. My thing is that if I don’t bring enough reusable bags into the store…I bring the cart to the car and fill them up there. I get funny looks…but at least people notice!

  31. Will Terry says:

    I wish our town and surrounding towns would get on board with something like this. I had a discussion the other day with a student who said she’s embarrassed to fore-go the bag – why in the world would you be embarrassed for doing the right thing?

    • Beth Terry says:

      Will, I think some people are afraid to be different. You know what? You and I were raised in a minority religion when we were growing up, and maybe that has helped us have the courage to stand up for our convictions, even if it makes us different. Maybe you could share that with your student. Just a thought.

  32. Denise Yribarren says:


    I am 60 years old and became more environmentally aware after reading “The Tightwad Gazette” in the early 90’s. I am really happy being committed to greener lifestyle.

    The ladies in my neighborhood are quite a bit younger than I. The last thing I want to do is to be preachy. But if someone comes over to visit, I tell them I have more than enough bags and could I share one with them. They tend to ask me questions and I try to answer gently.

    I am helping one neighbor with cooking lessons; she truly was not aware she could cook and clean in the kitchen without paper towels. I sent her home with a stack or rags…

    Thanks for your ongoing support!



  33. Leslie says:

    I’m really interested in the book, and enjoy learning about plastic waste and ways to prevent it! Sign me up :)

  34. Elizabeth B says:

    My husband and I already take reusable bags to the store, and if we’re only buying one item, we usually skip bags altogether. However, because my tendonitis has been really badly flared up the past few months, I haven’t been cooking. Like, at all. Which means lots of takeout containers and the plastic bags they come in. D: Shame, shame! So I need to do my PT exercises and get back on the cooking horse (so to speak) to further reduce our household bag intake.

  35. Petunia GreenBeans says:

    You are my plastic-free hero Beth! Since my local supermarket launched the self-scan/checkout devices, I see a lot more totes in the aisles.

    But…people still look at me a little funny when I zipper my produce up- I use mesh bags that are supposed to be used for washing your nylons and ..ahem..unmentionables ;)

    Last summer, we gave away nearly 30 Sister Sacks to festival shoppers >

    Checking out the Bag Ban toolkit now, would love to win the book!

    Enjoy your *OHM* time Beth- m jealous!!! <3

  36. Jessica Silva says:

    Hi! I annoy my family (lovingly) about plastic waste and they are awesome at bringing reusable bags to the store, now I’m working on the produce bag issue. .

  37. Tracey says:

    I wish you much Peace.

  38. Puck says:

    This is a brilliant project! I’m definitely checking everything out on their website.

    Thanks, Beth, for providing this resource to everyone.

  39. sudha says:

    i have been a green individual with very strong commitment to my lifestyle…i m 34 now but started my crusade when i was the way people are waking up to things now…high time..and popular bloggers like yourself are def doing a great job…makes me feel good that though ishare my ideas on my blog…people liek u are getting the message across

  40. Sheryl Krug says:

    I would like to thank Life Without Plastic for sharing the resources for plastic-free communities. Thanks for keeping the masses informed!

    p.s. I would like to win “Ban The Plastic Bag”