Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions



For immediate release:
Monday, March 28, 2011
For more information contact:
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, 516-390-7150, 631-384-1378 (mobile), aesposito@citizenscampaign.org
Matt Wallach, Program Coordinator, 914-358-9840, 516-816-1718 (mobile), mwallach@citizenscampaign.org


Citizens Campaign for the Environment launches Westchester County educational campaign to reduce plastic bag pollution, protect Long Island Sound and protect wildlife.

White Plains, NY — Citizens Campaign for the environment today announced a Westchester County-wide public education campaign to encourage consumers to reduce plastic and paper bag use and BYOB, or Bring Your Own Bag. Citizens Campaign for the Environment announced the campaign with Westchester County businesses and elected officials who also support the campaign including Westchester County Majority Whip Judith Myers, Majority Leader Peter Harckham, and Board Chairman Ken Jenkins. Citizens Campaign for the Environment will be handing out free reusable shopping bags, and educational material.

CCE is not only reaching out to residents directly, but engaging businesses to join the campaign. A few weeks into the campaign, over two dozen stores have already committed to “Kicking the Plastic Bag Habit.” These stores will display signs and brochures in their stores encouraging shoppers to bring their own bag. Some stores have agreed to stop using single use bags all together and others have agreed to offer reusable bags for sale. Stores have also committed to educating workers and training them to ask all shoppers if they need a bag with their purchase.

The goal of the campaign is to make Westchester County residents aware of the dangers of single use bags and to change their consumer behavior. In nearby Westport Connecticut, residents have already grown accustom to bringing their own shopping bag with them as they have had a ban on plastic bags in place for over two years. In Washington D.C., a year’s review shows that the five cent fee on bags worked better than expected in incentivizing consumers to bring a sturdy, reusable bag in place of plastic and paper bags that harm the environment.

By educating both businesses and members of the public on the dangers of using one-time use disposable bags, CCE believes that many fewer bags will end up littering landscapes, clogging, storm drains, and polluting our oceans, bays, and estuaries. CCE is proud to join efforts with environmental stewards in the form of businesses and elected officials that are engaging in positive efforts to encourage consumers to use reusable bags.

“Our convenience-driven consumer culture has become reliant on single use bags, which have become an unsightly staple in our local environment. These throw-away bags that have become the norm, have an average usage of just 12 minutes. Plastic bags kill wildlife, dangle from trees and fences, and pollute our local beaches, roadways and open spaces. CCE’s goal is for the public to become more aware of these dangers and make the switch to sturdy, reusable bags.” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

“Public education is the biggest and most influential tool in changing public behavior. CCE works regularly to educate the public on the environmental dangers of plastic pollution and the importance of reusing products. Businesses need to do their part and use their stores as a venue for promoting environmental awareness.” said Tara Bono, program coordinator of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “Grocery stores need to be held accountable for their consumers’ habits; stores that give incentives for good behavior have consumers that are more environmentally aware, and it’s so important to have an educated society.”

"We often get positive comments from our customers about the re-usable fabric bags that we provide. It often becomes a topic of conversation, which allows us to give our 30 second pitch on the importance of not using plastic” said Bill Homer, owner of East Coast Surf Skate Snow in Larchmont, NY. The importance of this, he added, is because “"Plastics take hundreds of years to break down at sea and never fully biodegrade. As a result, marine animals often get entangled in the debris or mistake it for food.”

"Single-use shopping bags is so yesterday," said the Board's Majority Whip Judith Myers (D-Larchmont). "Plastic bags are long-lived. Once brought into existence to tote your purchases, they'll accumulate and persist on our planet for up to 1,000 years. With four out of five grocery bags in the US being plastic, each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. The bag will pay for itself if your grocery store offers a credit for bringing your own bags."

"The U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags. The energy needed to manufacture and transport disposable bags eats up more resources and creates global warming emissions," said Board Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers). "We're encouraging Westchester shoppers to 'Bring Your Own Bag' when you shop and switch to durable cloth bags or bags made from recycled materials."

"Reusable bags reduce waste, cut down on the importation of foreign oil and decrease our carbon output. This is a win-win proposal." said Majority Leader Peter Harckham.


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 mwallach  3/28/11