Reusable Shopping Bags
Plastic bags are made from non-renewable resources (oil, natural gas and other chemicals), and can take up to a thousand years to break down in the environment. They litter our streets, clog our storm drains and landfills and end up in oceans, lakes, rivers and bays where they impact marine ecosystems.
Many business owners have decided to eliminate plastic bags from their retail operations, and have substituted either 100% recycled paper or biodegradable plastic bags made from renewable resources. Many encourage their customers to "BYOB" (Bring Your Own Bag).
Some municipalities have adopted bans on single-use bags, but the plastic bag industry has fought back, citing government "over-regulation" and initiating state-wide prohibitions on the ability of local municipalities to address this serious problem.
Suffolk County, NY, recently passed a comprehensive ban on single-use plastic bags "to encourage consumers to use their own reusable bags for shopping and to reduce the environmental impacts associated with single-use bags."
The Surfrider Foundation maintains a list of local municipalities that have enacted laws to ban single-use plastic bags.
Instead of banning plastic bags, Dubuque, IA has encouraged the voluntary reduction of plastic bags in their community through public education as well as soliciting participation from the business community.
Watch our cool 30-second video about plastic shopping bags!
 Lajeunesse, S. (2004). PLASTIC BAGS Plastic bags are not created equal because they are meant for different purposes. Chemical & Engineering News, 82(38), 51.
 Wagner, T. P. (2017). Reducing single-use plastic shopping bags in the USA. Waste Management, 70, 3-12.
 Sachdeva, S., et al. (2015). Green consumerism: Moral motivations to a sustainable future. Current Opinion in Psychology, 6, 60-65.
 Clapp, J., & Swanston, L. (2009). Doing away with plastic shopping bags: International patterns of norm emergence and policy implementation. Environmental Politics, 18(3), 315-332.
 Bartolotta, J. F., & Hardy, S. D. (2018). Barriers and benefits to desired behaviors for single use plastic items in northeast Ohios Lake Erie basin. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 127, 576-585.