The Santa Monica-based environmental group Heal the Bay is conducting a series of reusable bag giveaways and retail promotions Thursday, Dec. 15 as part of its “Day Without a Bag.”

Residents from across Los Angeles County will conduct bag giveaways and peer-to-peer education at more than 60 locations. Heal the Bay officials say the grassroots activities are designed to educate consumers about the economic and environmental waste created by single-use shopping bags.

The event comes a day after the Los Angeles City Council was scheduled to move forward with a sweeping ban on both single-use paper and plastic bags at grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies. Santa Monica’s single use plastic bag ban took effect in September.

“Green Santa” and some Los Angeles County Public Works “eco-elves” also will distribute free reusable bags to patrons at high-profile shopping areas throughout the region through Jan. 1. Patrons who are “caught” using reusable bags will be rewarded with special prizes during the promotion.

While “Day Without a Bag” takes place on the third Thursday of December, Heal the Bay urges shoppers to utilize reusable bags 365 days out of the year.

“After five years of hosting this event, it’s gratifying to see us reach the tipping point in getting rid of single-use shopping bags,” said Meredith McCarthy, Heal the Bay’s programs director. “Bringing a reusable bag to the store is an easy and impactful way to improve the health of our oceans and neighborhoods.”

L.A. County approved an ordinance in November 2010 that bans plastic bags in unincorporated areas and places a charge on paper bags. The measure took effect in July for supermarkets and will go into effect Jan. 1 for liquor stores and convenience markets.

For a map of all giveaway sites,