The Berkeley Farmers' Markets are just saying no to all plastic bags and packaging from their three weekly markets. Their "Zero Waste" campaign is trying to "remove, reduce, and recycle plastic and to recycle and compost all materialized at the markets."Polyethylene (plastic) bags are bad news. They can take from 400 to 1,000 years to break down, and their chemicals remain for years after that. Plastic bags are made from crude oil, natural gas and other petrochemical derivatives.
Worldwatch Institute estimates that it takes 12 million barrels of oil to make the 100 billion plastic bags Americans use annually. Plastic bags often end up blowing down the street, getting caught in gutters, and just generally creating a pollution nuisance.
According to the Berkeley Farmers' Markets press release:
The Berkeley Farmers' Markets are now designated as "Zero Waste Zones" in which customers and vendors are expected to make every effort to eliminate waste to landfills. The markets encourage shoppers to bring their own cloth bags and previously used paper and plastic bags. Vendors selling prepared foods will be required to use compostable packaging and utensils. In addition, with support from a grant from the Alameda County Waste Management Authority, the Ecology Center has purchased compostable bags, made from renewable resources, which will be made available to vendors at half price.
In 2007, neighboring San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban plastic grocery bags.
For Earth Day, Berkeley will showcase demonstrations of biodiesel and electric cars and solar power. The celebration will be held near the market in Civic Center Park at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Allston Way from 12-5pm on Saturday, April 25.