Boston- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield), the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the Massachusetts Audubon Society and the Massachusetts Food Association are pleased to announce that November 14, 2007 will officially be “Reusable Bag Day” in the Commonwealth.
This Wednesday, November 14th, retailers across the Commonwealth will encourage customers to bring in their own bags or purchase a reusable bag rather than using a onetime use paper or plastic bag at the check-out counter.
“I commend the concerted effort between state agencies, policy-makers and Massachusetts businesses to reduce waste and pollution while promoting responsible environmental stewardship. Reusable Bag Day will raise awareness on how each individual can make a difference,” said Downing who co-sponsored the Legislative Resolution.
Massachusetts’ “Reusable Bag Day” is modeled after Hong Kong’s “No Plastic Bags Please Day” and Singapore’s “Bring Your Own Bag Day” which resulted in dramatic drops in the consumption of one-time bag use by encouraging consumers to bring their own bag, use a reusable bag, or go bagless. In Hong Kong, participating retailers distributed 40 percent less plastic bags and in Singapore, over 100,000 plastic bags were conserved and over 20,000 reusable bags were sold.
Onetime use bag consumption is quickly becoming a major environmental problem in Massachusetts and around the world. According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks, and wraps are consumed in the United States each year while only one percent of these bags are recycled. On the flip-side, the production of paper bags has been blamed for exacerbating global warming by destroying trees.
“Reusable bags are a perfect example of sustainability, where resources are being used efficiently and unnecessary waste is prevented,” said MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt. “Reusable Bag Day raises consumer awareness on how each of us, in our own way, can prevent waste and promote more sustainable living.”
“Reusable Bag Day” is aimed at highlighting the environmental advantages of using reusable bags. Reusable bags are designed to last for years and years and over their lifetime can replace up to 1,000 onetime use bags. They are made of renewable resources, such as cloth and cotton, and therefore do not rob the earth of valuable and rapidly depleting natural resources. Also, they often biodegrade naturally, unlike many onetime use bags, freeing up increasingly limited landfill space being filled with millions of onetime use bags everyday.
Many retailers across the Commonwealth have begun selling reusable bags for a nominal fee and displaying them near the cashiers in order to encourage their use.
“Retailers continue to support education and consumer awareness about the importance of protecting our environmental resources by using reusable bags and the proper use, disposal and recycling of other bags,” added Christopher Flynn, President of the Massachusetts Food Association, a non-profit trade association for the food distribution industry in Massachusetts that represents 95 percent of the food sales in the state.
“Why harm the environment and waste resources with disposable bags? Reusing bags makes sense and makes a difference,” said Jennifer Ryan of the Mass Audubon Society.