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Source: Newsday

Activists urge reusable plastic at Jones Beach event

BY PATRICK WHITTLE

Posted: September 13, 2010
Originally Published: September 12, 2010

A group of environmentalists - one wearing a suit made of plastic shopping bags to illustrate the amount of waste the average person creates in a year - Sunday stumped for reusable bags at Jones Beach.

The event, organized by Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, featured a traveling environmental activist who calls himself the Plastic Bag Monster.

The monster, also known as Chico, Calif.-based reusable bag salesman Andy Keller, wore a suit made of 500 plastic bags, which he said is the average number used by an American every year. Yesterday's windy conditions caused one of the bags to float away, prompting Keller to chase it down and recover it.

"You'll be around maybe 100 years, and you create one of me a year," said Keller, eliciting some laughs and a few shrieks from children at the event.

About 30 environmental activists, politicians and families attended the event, which took place outside the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center at the western end of Jones Beach State Park.

At the end of his appearance, Keller promised "to go recreate in our marine environment with my fellow bag monsters." The event was staged at the beach to dramatize the effect of plastic bags on waterways.

Keller called on local governments to offer incentives for shoppers to bring their own reusable shopping bags to stores. Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said Long Island towns should follow the lead of Westport, Conn., which banned plastic bags in 2008.

No towns in New York have banned plastic bags, Esposito said.

Laws in Suffolk County, Nassau County and New York City require retailers to set out bins where shoppers can return used bags for recycling.

Esposito called plastic bags "useless, needless and easily replaceable."