Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions



For immediate release:
Monday, December 18, 2017
For more information contact:
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, 516-390-7150, 631-384-1378 (mobile), aesposito@citizenscampaign.org


New data collected by high school students throughout Suffolk County show 71% of consumers still use throw-a-way bags

Farmingdale, NY— Students and teachers joined the Food Industry Alliance, Local 338, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and Suffolk County representatives to release critical data demonstrating need for Suffolk County’s 5 cent single use bag fee. High school students and teachers conducted surveys of consumer shopping habits in Suffolk County in advance of Suffolk’s BYOBag law implementation on January 1st. This is believed to be the most comprehensive data collection effort in the nation documenting consumer habits for bag usage.

• 11,395 individuals were surveyed outside grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores.
• 71% of individuals are using throw-a-way bags
• 5% of individuals are using reusable bags.
• More people bring their reusable bags on the weekend (6,.4%) as compared to the weekdays (4.65%).
• More woman use reusable bags – 68% of those brining their own bags are female, 32% are men.

These surveys will be replicated next year, once a 5 cent fee on plastic and paper bags is implemented, to analyze the effect of the law on consumer behavior.

Teachers and students from 7 schools participated in the survey, including Northport, Brentwood, Huntington, Smithtown, East Islip, North Babylon High Schools and St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue. The students conducted surveys in 8 locations throughout November and December, during the week and on weekends. They surveyed grocery stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies. The survey will be replicated within a year to asses and quantify behavior change.

“Throw-a-way bags are not free. They pollute beaches, parks, clog infrastructure and kill marine and bird life. We commend Legislator Doc Spencer, the Suffolk Legislature, and County Executive Bellone for making Suffolk County a leader in passing Suffolk County’s BYOBag law. Making the switch to reusable bags is an easy way to protect our environment, carry our purchases, and avoid a nickel fee. Let’s all make a New Year Resolutions to BYOB—Bring Our Own Bags to the store,” Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“The E-Team at Northport High School is proud to be a part of this project, combing science, environmental activism, and participation in government to help make a difference in our communities. We look forward to continuing our work to help eliminate the use of plastic bags and build a better future for all of us” Brittany Klein, Social Studies Teacher at Northport High School.

The Food Industry Alliance, Local 338, Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Suffolk County will be launching an educational campaign and unveiling outreach materials for retailers and the public, which explain the Suffolk County BYOBag law and encourage residents to make the switch to reusable bags. Businesses, Labor, Schools, Government, and Environmental stakeholders are working together to ensure retailers and consumers are prepared to make the switch from polluting single-use bags to reusable alternatives.

"Preserving the environment is essential for generations that come after us and we can only do that by starting in our backyards. We have been proud to partner with Legislator Spencer and many allies to create a program that makes sense for consumers, small businesses, workers, and the preservation of our green spaces, beaches, and waterways. We expect the efforts to reduce plastic bag waste to be a success come the New Year!” - Nikki Kateman, Political & Communications Director of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW.

“The Food Industry Alliance of New York, representing grocery, drug and convenience stores throughout Suffolk, applauds County Executive Bellone and Dr. Spencer for their thoughtful leadership on this issue. This type of law is the only way to ensure that plastic and paper bag distribution decreases while reusable bag use increases,” Jay Peltz, General Council and Vice President of Government Relations, The Food Industry Alliance of New York.

“The students were excited to be a part of advancing this groundbreaking environmental legislation right here on Long Island! It is vital that we each take some responsibility to change our current trends for the good of these future generations!” Nicole Cooper, Teacher, Huntington High School .

“For one year we as a working group have worked hard to see this program to fruition. We have engaged policy makers, teachers, educators and scientists. We are now asking for all of Suffolk to help make this a reality,” Dr. Rebecca Grella, Brentwood High School, Chair of Suffolk County subcommittee.

"Come January 1st, Suffolk County joins a rapidly growing list of communities that are saying no to continuing "The Disposable Society". The enactment of this important County measure establishes a five-cent fee on disposable plastic and paper bags, which provides residents an incentive to move to a more sustainable path by significantly reducing their use of disposable grocery bags. As a result, we can expect cleaner parks, roadsides, and coastlines, with both us and the wildlife species that share the island, and the coastal waters surrounding it, being better off,” John Turner, Seatuck Environmental Association. 


Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut. www.citizenscampaign.org

updated by jchristensen  12/21/17