One of the most common questions we get in response to news about various bag bans is, “How can I do this in my town?” There are tons of resources out there to answer this question, but we figured it might be useful to pull them together into a handy guide.
Step One: Educate Yourself on the Dangers of Plastic Bags – Heal the Bay has been working on bag bans for years and has compiled a wealth of information about the effect of plastic bags on ecosystems and human health. Green Cities California’s Master Environmental Assessment also summarizes existing studies on the environmental impacts of single use plastic, paper, compostable and reusable bags, as well as the impacts of policy options such as fees and bans on bags.
Step Two: Build the Local Movement – Before you get the city council behind a bag ban, you need to get citizens on board with the idea. We recommend hosting a screening of the informative documentary Bag It as a way to get people together to talk about why a single-use bag ban might be a good idea. Plastic Pollution Coalition’s Public Service Announcement has also been endorsed for use by the Ad Council; encourage your local network to run the ad as a way to further bolster community support. For more ideas and to learn about community organizing, check out Surfrider’s Rise Above Plastics campaign and ChicoBag’s Advocacy Toolkit.
Step Three: Connect with Others Working to Ban the Bag – There are many groups working on bag bans. The Clean Seas Coalition has worked on many of the successful recent bans passed in California and shares a lot of useful information on its site.
Step Four: Study Successful Ordinances – Hundreds of bag bans have been passed throughout the world. ChicoBag hosts this great map to help you find successful ordinances near you. We also recommend reading through some of the model ordinances out there, including San Francisco’s bag ban, Marin County’s single-use bag ordinance and Monterey’s ban on polysterene take-out containers (Ch. 14, article 3). The website Plasticbaglaws.org documents a host of other legislative efforts and useful links.
Step Five: Write to Friends and Local Businesses You Support – It’s amazing how effective a simple letter can be. Educate friends and local businesses and encourage them to join you in banning the bag. Sample letters you can copy and paste are available here.
Step Six: Contact Your Local Representatives – Write to or call your mayor, city council members, or state representatives to voice your support for a bag ordinance and encourage other like-minded members of your community to do the same. You can start a free petition to rally support here, and find contact info for your local representatives on your city government’s website. Contact information for state representatives is available here.
Step Seven: Keep Us Posted! – We will happily promote your efforts and celebrate your success. Simply comment here or on our Facebook page and we’ll help you get the word out.