A Day Without a Bag is an educational grassroots event started by Heal the Bay in Los Angeles and hosted by Surfrider Foundation Chapters along with local community groups throughout the country.  Held the third Thursday in December, we ask holiday shoppers and retailers to forgo single-use, plastic shopping bags in favor of reusable bags.  Celebrate by remembering your reusable bags and if you happen to have a few extra ones, give them away to a friend or stranger to show your commitment to a clean ocean!

The impact of single-use plastic bags in our communities is costly to retailers, taxpayers and the environment. Partnerships with retailers, community and civic groups help us educate our individuals with an important message about the harmful impact of single-use plastic bags.  This is the fifth annual Day Without a Bag that started locally by Heal The Bay in Los Angeles and continues to grow with the help of the Surfrider Foundation, other organizations and retailers that embrace the idea.  This year there will be reusable bag giveaways throughout Southern California along with a few coastal areas in Northern California and the East Coast.

Approximately 100 billion plastic checkout bags are used in the United States each year according to the EPA, which works out to be an average of approximately 300 bags per man, woman and child. Disposable bags cost our fiscally strained cities for disposal and cleanup. Plastic bags are typically made from a non-renewable resource, petroleum or natural gas.  Both are non-renewable resources that are environmentally destructive, create more greenhouse gases, and increase our dependency on non-renewable resources.

Even though plastic bags and food containers are designed to be “disposable,” and used for seconds or minutes, plastic lasts hundreds of years or longer in the environment without biodegrading. Most of the plastic that ever was…is still here.

Recycling cannot fix the problem: Plastic bags are often not economically efficient to recycle, and this toxic trash is often shipped to developing countries (most estimates show under 10% of plastic bags are recycled).  Once discarded, plastic bags either enter our landfills or our watersheds. In contrast to plastic bags, a single reusable bag has the potential to eliminate hundreds of plastic bags over its lifetime. 
Additionally, all plastic products that enter our marine environment eventually break down into small fragments rather than truly biodegrading. In some parts of the Northern Pacific Ocean, studies have shown there is six times as much plastic by mass than there is plankton.

The impact of plastic on the marine environment and our communities is significant and we have the option to dramatically reduce the use of plastic bags—why not make every day, A Day Without a Bag?