Plastic Free Towns is a project of the REFUSE campaign, to support communities around the globe in their efforts to eliminate disposable plastic, and to measurably reduce their overall plastic footprint. This project is always carried out in partnership with local organizations and generally follows a three steps approach. (1) An audit of common sources of plastic pollution for the community. These sources vary significantly between geographies, but almost always are plastic bottles, plastic bags, straws and a stream of disposable plastic objects. (2) Evaluation and identification of viable, locally sourced alternatives to the sources of plastic pollution. (3) Development of a plan to reduce plastic pollution, with measurements and reporting mechanism. The plan includes community outreach and engagement; support for locally sourced, low-carbon footprint alternatives; and long term monitoring and viability.
One of the most common questions is how to start a movement to eliminate plastic bags. We believe that each community has the right and obligation to decide the best way. To help with that process, we have listed some of the best resources below.
Step One: Educate yourself on the dangers of plastic bags.
- California-based Heal the Bay 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 and get citizens on board with the idea.
- Host 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.
- 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.
- Plastic Free Times features an interactive map of proposed and successful plastic bag bans worldwide. Use it to find others working on plastic reduction in your country or local area.
- ChicoBag hosts a similar map to help you find successful ordinances near you.
Step Four: Study successful ordinances.
Hundreds of bag bans have been passed throughout the world. We recommend reading through some of the model ordinances out there, including:
- San Francisco’s bag ban
- Marin County’s single-use bag ordinance
- Monterey’s ban on polysterene take-out containers (Ch. 14, article 3).
The website Plasticbaglaws.org also 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.