The Santa Monica-based environmental group Heal the Bay will once again provide Southland shoppers incentive gifts to forgo plastic bags in favor of reusables as part of its sixth annual “Day Without a Bag” Thursday, Dec. 20.
This year’s “Day Without a Bag” could possibly be the final one held in Los Angeles, as the City Council voted in May to move forward with an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags, according to a Heal the Bay spokesman. If the law is enacted, Los Angeles will become the largest U.S. city with a plastic bag prohibition.
Heal the Bay will focus this year’s event on preparing the public for the upcoming ban, urging local residents to finally kick their plastic bag habit and begin using reusables. In partnership with the city of Los Angeles, Earthwise Bags, as well as grocery retailers Vons/Pavilions, Albertsons and Ralphs, will offer prizes and incentives to customers who bring their own reusable bags to shop on Dec. 20.
“We’re hoping that this holiday season will be the last time Angelenos will see plastic bags as they do their gift shopping,” said Meredith McCarthy, Heal the Bay’s programs director. “We want shoppers to get in the habit of using the reusable bags stashed in their closets and car trunks all year round. Bringing your own reusable bag is one of the easiest ways to have a positive impact on your own neighborhood and improve the health of our oceans.”
Less than 5 percent of plastic grocery bags are recycled annually in Los Angeles and the remainder can clog landfill, litter public spaces and harm animal life when the bags infiltrate waterways, according to Heal the Bay. Paper bags, while biodegradable, still require vast amounts of fossil fuels and water to produce, distribute and collect for disposal, Heal the Bay officials note.
Since the county Board of Supervisors banned single-use plastic bags in July 2011 there has been a 95 percent reduction of single-use bag distribution, according to the county Department of Public Works.
Heal the Bay hosted a “Day Without a Bag Youth Summit” on Dec. 1 that involved high school and college club leaders. Students were recruited to bring the campaign to their local neighborhoods, learning how to map out and target areas in their community, interact and collaborate with businesses to secure partnerships.
Students from approximately 10 schools participated and plan to distribute reusable bags in their communities on the “Day Without a Bag” event.