How often when doing your daily shopping are you asked at the checkout counter ‘paper or plastic?’ Well, next time when you’re asked, make sure you tell them, ‘Neither. I brought my own!’
Westchester County Board of Legislators has joined with the Citizens Campaign on the Environment (CCE) to roll out the “Bring Your Own Bag (B.Y.O.B.)” campaign. This campaign is a countywide public educational effort that will focus on changing the behavior of individuals, as well as businesses, towards protect our environment, particularly our waterways and marine life that we have invested so much to restore. The program aims to increase consumer use of reusable shopping bags through a coordinated effort to educate grocery store staff, customers and the general public that includes staff training, advertising, signage and special events.
“Single-use shopping bags are far more harmful than helpful,” said the Board’s Majority Whip Judith Myers (D-Larchmont). “Plastic bags especially. Once manufactured to tote your purchases, they’ll accumulate and persist on our planet for up to 1,000 years. With four out of five grocery bags in the US being plastic, each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. The bag will pay for itself if your grocery store offers a credit for bringing your own bags.”
CCE’s goal is to educate and empower Westchester residents and businesses to make smart decisions to increase their use of reusable shopping bags, reduce plastic pollution, and prevent litter to diminish dangerous ocean, estuarine, coastal, and wetland debris. “Our convenience-driven consumer culture has become reliant on single use bags, which have become an unsightly staple in our local environment. These throw-away bags that have become the norm, have an average usage of just 12 minutes. Plastic bags kill wildlife, dangle from trees and fences, and pollute our local beaches, roadways and open spaces. CCE’s goal is for the public to become more aware of these dangers and make the switch to sturdy, reusable bags.” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. The report card will evaluate and grade supermarkets in Westchester County on their reusable bag policies. Shoppers should look for signs in stores and educational brochures.
“The U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags. The energy needed to manufacture and transport disposable bags eats up more resources and creates global warming emissions,” said Board Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers). “We’re encouraging Westchester shoppers to ‘Bring Your Own Bag’ when you shop and switch to durable cloth bags or bags made from recycled materials.”
The campaign includes:
- Distribution of educational literature to encourage the residents of Westchester County to ‘B.Y.O.B -- Bring Your Own Bag’, and stop the use of one-time flimsy, disposable, plastic bagsPresentations in schools and community meetings & public service announcements
- Presentations in schools and community meetings and public service announcements
- Working with local businesses to pledge to ‘kick the plastic bag habit’ and stop the free give-a-way of plastic bags, thereby encouraging customers to bring their own bags. Businesses will be asked to display signage in parking lots and in the front of stores to encourage consumers to remember to bring their own bags. Businesses that participate will be recognized as good environmental stewards in a variety of ways including being able to display a poster recognizing their efforts and informing residents that they have “kicked the plastic bag habitat” and to please “BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag)”
“Reusable bags are a much better option. Most are recyclable, lightweight, durable, and washable, and can carry three to four times the amount of weight than a single-use bag,” said Majority Leader Peter Harckham. “Making a conscious effort to use reusable bags, instead of single-use bags, is ecologically and economically beneficial. Using reusable bags conserves energy and natural resources, reduces waste in landfills, diminishes litter, and promotes a cleaner environment.”
Here are some simple steps you can take right now to help with the Bring Your Own Bag campaign:
- Find uses around the house for reusing plastic and paper bags, such as lining your trash can or carrying your lunch to school or work
- Keep your reusable shopping bags in a location where you will remember them as you leave the house, or keep them in your car so you always have them with you
- Challenge yourself to go at least one week without accumulating any new single-use bags at home
At the store:
- Don’t forget your reusable bags in the car! Use whatever type of reminder works best for you to make sure you grab your reusable bags on your way into the store.
- Bring one or two more reusable bags with you into the store than you think you’ll need just in case you buy more items than planned.
- Think twice about having the retailer provide you with a single-use bag if your purchase is small and easy to carry.
- Avoid using single-use plastic bags as much as possible!
- Encourage shoppers to use reusable bags by offering a credit, coupon, or discount to those who use reusable bags.
- Sell reusable bags at or near the checkout counter, or provide a free bag to customers who spend over a certain amount.
- Thank customers who bring in their own bags.