Why Bring Your Own Bag?

Start a habit you'll be proud to flaunt: remember your own bags every time you go to the store. It's one simple way to go green in your daily life. And when people see you're making the right choice, they're likely to do it too.


Some paper & plastic statistics

  • Each year the United States consumes 30 billion plastic and 10 billion paper grocery bags, requiring 14 million trees1 and 12 million barrels of oil.2
  • The pulp and paper industry is the 2nd largest industrial user of energy in the U.S.3
  • More than 46,000 pieces of plastic contaminate each square mile of our oceans.4
  • Only 1% of plastic bags are recycled annually nationwide.6

 

Solutions in the San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco: Banned plastic bags at large chain supermarkets and pharmacies in 2007 and is currently considering extending the ban to all retailers and including a charge on recycled-content paper bags.

Palo Alto: Banned plastic bags at large supermarkets.

Fairfax: Banned plastic bags at all supermarkets.

San Jose: Adopted a ban on plastic bags and a charge on recycled-content paper bags at all retailers which is set to go into effect January, 2012.

Marin County: Adopted a ban on plastic bags and a charge on paper bags at large supermarkets,  pharmacies and convenience stores which will go into effect in 2012.

 

Solutions from around the world

Alaska: 30 communities have instituted bans on the distribution of non-biodegradable plastic bag.

    Australia: The government and Australian Retailers Association agreed to reduce plastic bag use by 25 percent by 2004 and 50 percent by 2005.

    Dhaka, Bangladesh: Banned polyethylene bags after they clogged drains and worsened floods.

    Bhutan: Vendors caught handing out plastic bags face losing their business license.

    Denmark: Plastic bag tax is twice that for paper bags, with both paid by retailers upon purchase. Consumption of paper and plastic bags has declined by 66 percent.

    Ireland: A 30 cent fee per bag for retail customers has resulted in a 90% reduction of single-use bags.

    Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India: Prohibits bags thinner than 20 microns (as does Delhi, Maharashtra and Kerala) to discourage use.

    South Africa: Banned all plastic bags thinner than 30 microns.

    Switzerland: Requires supermarkets to charge 15-20 cents per paper bag.

    Taiwan: Banned the free distribution of plastic bags and food service ware by government agencies, schools, restaurants, supermarkets and other stores.


    1. “Paper or Plastic?”, Delicious Living Magazine, March 2002.
    2. Reusable Bags Tackle Plastic Bag Mess, Organic Trade Association.
    3. “Paper Cuts: Recovering the Paper Landscape”, Abromovitz & Mattoon,Worldwatch Institute, Washington DC, 1999.
    4. Keep the Sea Plastic Free, Bin It, Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Heritage
    5. Turtles Don't Shop, Earth Resource Foundation.
    6. Plastic Bags: A Necessary Eyesore?, Worldwatch Institute.