TreeHugger Picks: Ban the Bag

Plastic bags make a big, persistent mess when they get left where they don't belong or get trashed in a landfill. Thankfully, we're learning to stay away from them (and designing greener alternatives); here are some of TreeHugger's picks for those leading the way by banning plastic bags.


1) Though it took a few years, San Francisco successfully banned the bag in large markets and pharmacies in March of this year, making it the first municipality in the United States to do so. The move should keep 180 million bags, give or take, from entering the waste stream each year.


2) All IKEA stores in the US also made a move to ban the bag by charging customers a nickel per bag to haul their Swedish fish and affordable housewares out of the store. IKEA projected that the number of plastic bags used by their US customers will be reduced by at least 50% from 70 million to 35 million in the first year. The move may have influenced a similar plan to ban bags in all retail outlets in Annapolis, Maryland.


3) Modbury, in Devon (in the UK) became the first town in Europe to stop using plastic carrier bags. Interestingly, the move wasn't prompted by government action, but was the result of a hard fought and won campaign started by local activist Rebecca Hosking, who started by single-handedly approaching and convincing store owners to stop using plastic. Action in Australia and India, beneath the fold...


4) Fizroy Falls, a small town in Australia, completely banned the bag way back in the summer of 2005; Deputy Mayor Nick Campbell-Jones said the declaration of Fitzroy Falls as a plastic bag-free town was an example for the rest of the shire to follow. "This is the first locally-branded, re-useable shopping bag in the area and it goes some way towards the creation of a sustainable community," he said.

5) Vasco, a city on the west coast of India, has been the first council to implement the "Zero Garbage Town Scheme" following a high court judgment in late 2003. The scheme was launched on January 26, 2006; in anticipation of the difficulty that the ban would bring, many incentives were built in to the system, like the distribution of free jute and paper bags, and citizens were awarded one liter of milk for free for every 100 empty milk containers returned.

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