Progress on the Los Alamos Ban the Bag campaign

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By Jody Benson, Pajarito Group, newsletter editor, 04/06/14
After its inaugural event on Jan. 15, the Pajarito Group’s Bag Ban effort is progressing and expanding.
Chapter Director Camilla Feibelman is training members from the Pajarito Group and multiple other organizations, including PEEC, the League of Women Voters and the community at large, to become focused activists.
In this coordinated process of planning and initiating the campaign, we have organized the teams (Technical, Communications, Tabling, Outings, and Presentations) and begun developing tactics and strategies including: our logo (see below, by noted local artist Fran Stoval), our brochure, fliers, T-shirts, and much of the language and technical information required for the final resolution to present to the county.
The Tabling Team has attended two events, and on March 21 they will feature Matt Tapia’s Bag Monster (built with 500 bags gathered by the Environment Club of Mountain School — 500 is the number of bags used annually by each American) at the “It’s Not Easy Being Green” art show at Fuller Lodge. In addition, the Tabling Team has already scheduled a coveted slot at a pancake breakfast at the Masons in September.
The Outings Team had its first outing: a guided tour of the eco-station in March. At Empty Bowls we collected plasticware to recycle through our local plastic recycler, Azazo. We will have a sew-in inviting the community to learn how to make bags from random pieces of fabric (please watch your email for date and venue).
We have “tested the idea” with local merchants, the Chamber of Commerce, some community leaders and a lot of citizens to encourage support (or at minimum, awareness) of the upcoming effort.
Melanie Borup created the Facebook page. There you can see a few photos from our initial “Bag Cam” by the Reel Deal Theater. The bag, during the winds of February, shredded itself all over Eastern Area. Add your own bags-in-the-trees/bags-in-the-weeds/chollas/rocks/fences/roofs/birds’ nests/floating-down-the-street to our Bag Cam collection.
You can join. There are still multiple tasks to do. Have some fun and make a real change for the quality of life in Los Alamos. Los Alamos, Discover we can live without the single-use plastic bag!
Please like us at facebook.com/NoMorePlasticBags. Contact Jody Benson at bensonj@lanl.gov to join the effort!
Are we willing to sacrifice health, wildlife, and the environment for a disposable plastic bag?
Just say NO, nein, non, nyet, nee, jo, nai, laa, ez, ne, pù, shi, iié, ala, oya, na, nahin, neg, bo, ahneo, nei, thay, NO to plastic bags!

Why ban plastic bags? A bag ban is one small step on protecting Earth against plastic’s toxicity.
• Since the 1950s, humans have discarded 100 billion tons of plastic.
• Worldwide, we use 1 million bags per minute
• Americans use 102.1 billion bags per year. It takes 12 million gallons of oil to make these bags.
• Less than 1 percent are recycled.
• Plastic does not biodegrade. Instead, it degrades into chemicals and nurdles (plastic pellets) that get into the ecosystem and are ingested by both humans and wildlife in water
• Toxic chemicals are released from plastics degrading
• Plastics suffocate plant life and plankton.
• Multiple species mistake plastic for food, leading to entanglement and ingestion by wildlife.
• The Monterey Bay Aquarium cites 97.5 percent of albatross chicks on an island 1,000 miles from the nearest big city have plastic in their stomachs.
Wouldn’t you rather bring your own bag than risk the health of our beautiful, fragile, organic planet?
They’re toxic
• Extraction of petroleum and all its related pollutants (including water);
• Chemical contamination of groundwater from buried plastic in landfill leaching toxins
• Climate change resulting from: methane from biodegradation and incineration of plastics, and the initial carbon use in transportation from source to consumer to Third World plastic-recycling locations….
• Litter that can survive for 1,000 years
• Chemical-exposure from plastic multiple times per day through the air, dust, water, food and use of consumer products.
Plastic is not inert, but contains several chemicals with toxic potential.
About 50 percent of plastic is used for single-use disposable applications: i.e., our ubiquitous buddy, the plastic shopping bag.
Our Top 5 Tips
• B.Y.O.B., or “Bring Your Own Bag,” when you shop and switch to durable non-woven polypropylene reusable bags. If you use one of those more than 14 times (and who couldn’t?), you’ll have a lower environ-mental impact than you would by using the “single use” HDPE bags
• Plastic bags cannot go into your Los Alamos recycling bins. Instead, for the million bags you have, use them until they shred, give them to neighbors with cats, or take them to Smith’s for recycling.
• Just say “No!” to a bag when your item is already sufficiently packaged.
• Say “neither” to plastic or paper, since many trees are cut down to produce paper bags.
• As for what to do with the poo: use any of the dozens of plastic/paper bags or containers that we receive every single day, everything from potato-chip and bulk-produce bags to cereal bags and oatmeal boxes; grab bags from the Smith’s recycle, or from the millions that your neighbor needs to get rid of.
Why recycle when we don’t need to use a bag in the first place?