According to the EPA, 11% of the waste in landfills is plastic. Less than 6% is recycled ~ the lowest rate of any material. Plastic never goes away. It lasts forever. Some biodegradable plastics of dairy and corn breakdown and degrade in as little as 90 days, but very little is in use.
Action steps we all can take to reduce plastic pollution
Bring your own bag
- Take cloth bags to the store to carry your groceries and sundries home. Use paper or other small bags for your produce. (Whole Foods sells produce bags) Buy cloth bags at any grocery store.
- Ask for a comment card in every store in which you shop, or go to their website. Respectfully ask the management to stop using plastic bags, and to phase out the use of other plastics.
- Recycle all bottles, cans and paper and some plastic.
Find alternatives to plastic products
- Buy food in glass or metal containers (avoid cans if possible; never heat food in the can)
- Avoid plastic water bottles
- Do not heat or microwave food in plastic containers or store fatty food in plastic containers or plastic wrap
- Do not give young children plastic teethers or toys
- Use natural fiber clothing, bedding and furniture
- Do not use Mylar balloons
Be a good citizen
- Contact Californians Against Waste: find out what bills are coming up for a vote in the legislature.
- Google “State and Federal representatives” to get the representatives for your area. Tell them you want to reduce the manufacture of all kinds of plastic ~ especially for one time use.
Reports from around the county on “Bring Your Own Bag Day”
Sustainable Pacific Grove ~ Denyse
At the Safeway store where the cashiers were giving away the bags, one cashier told me very enthusiastically that their 500 bags were gone by 2 PM. She said, “with very few exceptions for people who want plastic bags for their dog’s poo, most everybody wanted one,”
At SaveMart, we were three SPGers tabling and we distributed our 155 bags in less than 2 hours. We could have used twice as many. We had a mix of people who did not care, people who were very supportive of the idea and people we had a chance to educate, I would say it was a success,
It’s with much appreciation that I say:
Thanks Jeff for the bags.
Thanks Lynda for coordinating this effort.
Thanks Ximena for the press release
Thanks Lewis for your support.
Sustainable Pacific Grove – Vicki
For BYOB Day at PG Farmers’ Market on Monday, I brought my sewing machine and some light-weight muslin, and I sewed produce bags. Though this concept was strange to people, I wanted to try it out because Iris, Ximena, and I had observed at the Farmers’ Market the same habit that Ximena reports from Mi Tierra: Many or most people who brought their own tote bags then filled them with plastic bags full of produce.
My bags were about 12″ x 20″, I think, plenty big enough for a cabbage, a large bunch of greens or beets, or half a dozen or so apples. I put most such produce directly into my tote bags, but many people don’t, and some container is needed for loose items such as green beans, okra, finger potatoes. (The mushroom vendor displays pre-weighed mushrooms in blue foam trays, then transfers the mushrooms into a paper bag.)
I sewed 4 bags in the short time I was there. A nice lady named Sandy wanted one and insisted on giving me a dollar, which I will pass to SPG.
Reactions to these produce bags were not as immediately enthusiastic as to my t-shirt tote bags, but I think most people “got it.” One woman said she thought the scales were adjusted for the weight of the plastic bag (they aren’t) and that these were heavier. They are, but still insignificant compared to most produce that gets weighed.
I might try to find some prettier fabric with patterns of fruits and vegs (probably heavier, tho), and I want to try sewing bags of a very light nylon-mesh fabric. (I bought some like that, but my source went away.)
Sustainable Seaside ~ Kay
Cathy Rivera and I were at Mi Pueblo for almost 2 hours yesterday, while Ron and Ximena were at Mi Tierra. Carli dressed up in the “Bag Monster” costume (500plastic bags – the number used annually by average Californian!) and walked with her friend Laura between the two venues and through them, giving out bags. Ximena, Ron and Carli speak Spanish and that was very helpful.
At Mi Pueblo, Cathy, Carli, Laura and I gave away 104 reuseable bags which were gratefully received by those who took them. We probably spoke with 150 people. Some people refused our offers, some were not interested, some already had bags, but many were excited (and amazed that they were actually free!) and immediately used their new bag. Some looked at our Sustainable Seaside table cover and our poster board about plastic and the ocean, some picked up Surfrider info. Overall it was a great project: very wonderful to be giving away something so useful, as well as to have the opportunity to talk with people about the importance of getting rid of single use plastic. Some folks mentioned that Monterey has banned plastic bags. We learned that more shoppers at Mi Tierra are monolingual Spanish than at Mi Pueblo.
A huge thank you, Lynda, (on behalf of CSMC) and to Surfrider for making this event possible.
Surfrider – Ximena
Ron and I were at Mi Tierra in Seaside last Friday. Population was largely monolingual Spanish, and though we gave out over 100 bags, at times it took some convincing. A number of people seemed suspicious or untrusting of us, perhaps thinking we wanted them to buy or sign something (though we had no petition or paperwork out).
So there was little education, per se, since we had to tell them very quickly what we were doing and why before they rushed by us. Our spiel, in Spanish, roughly translated was “Please take a FREE bag so we reduce the number of plastic bags used because they hurt the environment.”
The outcome –
- About half used them as intended – replacing the plastic bags with the tote
- About half used them as the large carrying bag, filled it with plastic bags full of groceries
- A solid handful came out of the store with them folded under their arm, carrying loaded plastic bags. This was tough to see. (Ron surmised that they thought the bags too nice to fill with produce/food)
In general, we saw a great need for education in this demographic, and we think the way to do it is talks in the schools – teach the youngest kids first. We (Surfrider) would like to make this a priority in 2012 for the Spanish speaking community. We have a short Spanish version of our presentation, and need to assess where to utilize it.
B-SAGE – Lynda
Marilyn and I went to Safeway Crossroads from 2 ~ 5. We made a big sign that said “Free Bags” We gave away the handout that Denyse made up and also one on the problem with plastic bags and what to do about it. We had 90 bags to give away but then Lewis Leader came riding in on his white horse and gave us 80 more.
By the time 5 rolled around we had given away about 150. Most people were supportive and some thanked us for what we were doing. Some said they had forgotten their bag, a few were not interested. Both of us felt it was fun! At five we walked across the parking lot to the new store, Local Color, where they were having a holiday party.
Sustainable Carmel – Kristi
I wanted to thank each of you for helping to pull it together in this busy holiday season, to give a presence to Sustainable Carmel on BYO Bag day!
On the day, standing outside of Nielson’s Market we gave away 120 bags and got 10 or so signatures to ban plastic bags (many people have already signed this petition!)
Nielson’s Market owners, Azniv and Tigran are VERY supportive of us and said that we can do this again ANYTIME! They are very much looking forward to the ban of the plastic bag so “they don’t have to order the plastic bags anymore”. They are finding that customers sometimes demand the plastic bags (on rainy days etc). So, it would be much easier for them to say “we are not allowed to have them”.
Happy holidays everyone from me AND Eco Carmel!!
Why I coordinated BYOB:
I coordinated BYOB because of my concern about the problems plastic causes ~ especially plastic bags. (Please see “Take Action” and “What’s Wrong with Plastic” below) Each action group that participated organized their own tabling. I tried to keep people in touch with each other when I thought it would help. This poem by Drew Dellinger continues to inspire me to be alert to what I can do.
– Lynda Sayre
It’s 3:23 in the morning
and I’m awake
because my great great grandchildren
won’t let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?
surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?
as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?
did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?
what did you do once you knew?