Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Get Involved! Ban the Bag!

I am by every account the type of person that believes my choices matter.  I don't know how long I've been this way, but I suppose it's been so long that I can't quite remember when I wasn't.  My choices span from choosing to have a positive outlook and to such things as refusing single use plastics.  When it comes to refusing plastics... one of simplest things we can all do is to stop using plastic bags.

Long before I had a blog and long before I started down the path to using less plastic... I gave up using plastic bags.  Here's the plain and simple truth:  60,000 plastic bags are used EVERY 5 seconds in the US.  That's A LOT of plastic bags... and of all those plastic bags only a small percentage (between 3-5%) are even recycled.  SO... where do the other 95-97% of plastic bags end up? .

The majority of plastic bags used either end up in a landfill or worse littered in our environment-- roadways, parks, trees, beaches and oceans.  Because of plastic bags being so lightweight, there isn't a place that a plastic bag can't go.  Over the past couple of years, I have taken the time to document (as much as possible) plastic bags that have been (for the most part) unintentionally littered in our world.  I document their presence at the beach, I snap pictures of them in trees, and I even chase them down as they blow in the wind.  I do this all to bring awareness to this huge problem because from my personal experience I know that once I'm aware of a problem... I can no longer look away and I look to find solutions to the problem.

I used to think recycling was the answer... or at least part of it.  But, it's not.  Recycling is NOT the answer.  There are several things that we as individuals can do to begin to create change and begin to rid our world of the ubiquitous plastic bag.

1.  Use reusable bags.  Make the decision to never accept plastic bags.  Forget your reusable bags? Get resourceful and rethink how to get your purchases out of the store without plastic bags.  I've been known to use my shirt, pile items in my hands or even push a cart full of groceries to my car without bags.  ;)

2. Document: See a littered plastic bag?  Pick it up, document and share what you find!

3. Sign petitions to ban the bag in your area.  Locally Cape Fear Surfrider has a petition for Ban the Bag New Hanover County.  Please add your name to the petition here: Ban the Bag!  

Want to get more involved in the local movement to ban the bag in NHC, contact Ethan:

4. Stretch your activist muscles and get involved in the Ban the Bag movement.  Factory Direct Promos recently created an interactive global map that highlights plastic bag bans and legislation limiting their use.  It's a great resource to see how other places have succeeded in implementing legislation-- whether bans or fees-- to limit the use of single-use plastic bags.  No plastic bag legislation in your area? Do some research, connect to the community and start a petition!


  1. I am with you on all of the above and have also been known to use my shirt to carry my purchases! The cool thing is every time we say no to single use plastic bags and yes to reusable bags, we create awareness to the issue. It still amazes me that people feel there is nothing wrong with plastic bags and I think it is just because they need the facts you have laid out so nicely above. The video is powerful too!
    Thank you for all you do, for giving our map a shout out and for spreading this message.
    FDP, CMO

  2. Yay D! Thanks for the great post. Missing you big time!

  3. I hope more people would get this.

    In my county they finally passed a ban but only in unincorporated areas, which means that the big chain store is packaging groceries in paper across the freeway, but in town it still uses plastic, makes no sense. I think that municipalities fear the public and their objections, but in my city it makes no sense that they still allow plastic despite the fact that they are considered a very green town.

    I also believe it is all about educating the public. One neighbors of mine clearly thinks that plastic bags can be recycled so she tosses them together with all her other plastic but in our county they end up in the landfill. Why not do a major information campaign about that?

    Thanks for all your activist.

  4. Today I saw my neighbor, who is officially disabled due to bad life choices, walking back from the store with a reusable bag! Believe me when I tell you, she does not strike me as one to go the extra. Seeing her with her groceries sticking out of her cloth bag did my heart good. Good post my friend. We lived without plastic bags before and didn't suffer. We can live without them now so that animals don't suffer.