Who and What?
Bring your Bag Bloomington (BYBB) is a group of concerned citizens formed by the Center for Sustainable Living in June 2014. Our original goal was to introduce a city ordinance to address the issue of single-use plastic bags, by implementing a ban and/or fee on bags. After we had been working towards this goal for 18 months, the Indiana Legislature rushed through a bill in March 2016, which made it illegal for us to pass any local laws controlling plastic bags, or any other disposable food containers. This was a huge disappointment, but a few core members of the group have continued to meet and made it a grassroots effort to encourage everyone we come across to use reusable bags. We spend time talking one-on-one to people in grocery stores, or at various community events, explaining the problems with plastic bags and distributing free reusable bags. We have also conducted several workshops showing attendees how to make their own simple bags out of t-shirts.
Plastic bags have many permanent and negative effects on the environment. Some statistics which are particularly shocking and troubling:
- Worldwide, consumers use an estimated 1 trillion plastic bags each year—nearly 2 million a minute
- On average, plastic bags are used for 12 minutes before being discarded
- The average American family takes home about1500 plastic shopping bags a year
- In Bloomington as estimated 16 million plastic shopping bags are used per year, costing over $500,000
- Less than 5 percent of plastic bags are recycled in the US
- At least 12 million barrels of oil are used per year in the manufacture of plastic bags in the US
- Plastic bags can take between 500-1,000 years to decompose and really they only break down into smaller and smaller particles
- Recycling one ton of plastic bags costs $4000, while the recycled product can only be sold for $32
- A large number of bags end up polluting our landscape and waterways, often eventually landing in the ocean where they join with the hundreds of tons of plastic debris that swirls around in gyres
- Each year, tens of thousands of whales, birds, seals, and turtles die after getting entangled with bags or mistaking them for food
Here are some links to more articles and details on the topic:
What is being done elsewhere?
Over 130 cities around the US have passed ordinances dealing with the plastic bag issue, and Hawaii just became the first state to do so, with California soon to follow. At least 70 countries worldwide have bans or taxes on bags, some of them for many years. Here are some links with more information on ordinances:
How Can I Help?
If you’d like to get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We encourage everyone to bring your own bag when you go shopping – not just at grocery stores, but also at the Mall, the hardware store, anywhere you make purchases. Many of us have a stack of re-useable bags in our closets – it’s time to get them out, dust them off, and use them! Keep a few in your car so you don’t forget. If they get dirty, just throw them in the wash. Or carry a ChicoBag or similar tiny bag that can fit in your pocket or purse.
A good source for Eco-friendly tote bags is www.ecobags.com
You can also make bags out of t-shirts (and who doesn’t have a stack of extras in their dresser drawers!); all you need is a sharp pair of scissors and maybe 15 minutes. Here’s how: http://www.mommypotamus.com/no-sew-t-shirt-tote-bag-tutorial/
And please help us spread the word; tell your friends.