Big Pine Winn-Dixie Is First National Chain To Partner With “Got Your Bags? Florida Keys” Program

Big Pine Key Grocery Hosts Special Events With Significant Environmental Benefits To Help Reduce The Impact Of Single Use Plastic Bags

Store Manager Kenny Lowe and Volunteer Shirley Gunn encourage shoppers to remember their reusable bags.

Store Manager Kenny Lowe and Volunteer Shirley Gun encourage shoppers to remember their reusable bags.

Winn-Dixie partnered with nonprofit Green Living and Energy Education’s “Got Your Bags? Florida Keys” program by holding a reusable bag giveaway and sale event in December 2014 at the store on Big Pine Key. The event will be held again on Saturday, Feb 7, 2015 from 10 am – 2 pm at the same store.

Green Living and Energy Education (GLEE) volunteers set up a “Got Your Bags? Florida Keys” (GYB) station outside the Winn-Dixie, and provided a free reusable shopping bag to anyone who signed a pledge to do their best to avoid using plastic bags when they shop. The reusable bags were donated by local businesses and individuals who support the program.

“Each individual pledge takes a big step toward reducing single use plastic bag litter on streets, highways and shorelines,” says GLEE Board member, Shirley Gun. “More importantly, eliminating plastic bags also reduces the harm caused to the wild birds and marine animals from ingestion and entanglement,” she adds.

Big Pine Key Winn-Dixie Store Director, Kenny Lowe, and the store’s Area Service Manager, Dan Jensen, are thrilled to support the Keys environment with this ongoing project. Plastic bags are costly to provide, and that impacts the costs to shoppers as well. But the biggest cost is to the precious Florida Keys environment. An enormous number of plastic bags leave the store. Lowe and Jensen calculate that shoppers have taken almost 2.5 million plastic shopping bags from this single store in the first 11 months of 2014. Most of them will return to the environment in landfills, in the atmosphere via incineration, or will litter roadways and shorelines threatening birds, sea turtles and other animals.

Winn-Dixie also contributed to the event by making its store brand reusable bags available at a special savings for shoppers who wanted additional bags. As part of an ongoing campaign, the store will post signs and banners to remind shoppers to bring reusable bags, and train cashiers to ask shoppers about them at check out – or encourage them to load items from the shopping cart directly into their vehicles without using plastic bags at all, if possible. All store employees will be issued “Got Your Bags?” buttons to wear, to encourage and remind shoppers to choose reusable bags.

The GYB program, operated as part of GLEE’s nonprofit pro-environmental mission, started as a local citizen’s initiative in Big Pine Key in 2012, involving with numerous small retailers. Winn-Dixie is the first major chain to adopt the program, which is expanding throughout the Keys.

It has been adopted in Islamorada with the assistance of Monroe County Extension Service director, Alicia Betancourt. For the past two years, the Key West Film Festival has participated as a GYB sponsor, providing reusable bags for festival participants and incorporating numerous other green initiatives. In September, Help Yourself, the independent natural and organic market and restaurant became the first Key West retailer to promote the use of reusable shopping bags. A GYB project is also in the works in Key Largo.
For more information on the GYB program, check out GLEE’s website at http://www.keysglee.com/gyb/
and Follow the “Got Your Bags? Florida Keys” campaign online at https://www.facebook.com/GotYourBagsFloridaKeys .

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Got Your Bags Florida Keys Campaign Kicks Off

“Got Your Bags?”  Florida Keys is a coalition of residents, businesses, organizations, and local government dedicated to the reduction and voluntary elimination of single use plastic bags. The group formed together during the summer of 2012 to raise awareness of the dangers of plastic bags and to promote the use of reusable bags whenever possible.

It is well documented how damaging this little everyday item is to wildlife. The Florida Keys is a refuge for many protected species and the economy  relies on the National Marine Sanctuary surrounding the island community.  It is a unique and fragile environment that deserves the little additional effort that it takes to sustain its viability.

The State of Florida has mandated that no city, municipality, or county shall restrict or ban the use of plastic shopping bags. Therefore, this is a totally voluntary action taken by the citizens of the Keys.

Many individuals and organizations are aware of this problem and have started using and promoting reusable shopping bags to reduce the litter created by single use plastic bags.  But the problem seems to persist, largely because of human forgetfulness, laziness, or just being uninformed.  It is a global problem.  This local campaign is adapted from a successful model used in California and Maine to unite the personal efforts of residents and local business people to work together in an effort to overcome these obstacles.

“Got Your Bags – Florida Keys” is a grassroots community-based initiative based in Big Pine Key, FL. The hope is that the program will grow and serve as a model for the whole island chain, and eventually the entire state of Florida.

Photo: Got Your Bags Florida Keys will be setting up booths at various venues to raise awareness by giving out free reusable bags. Recipients are asked to sign a pledge saying that they will use the bags. Recipients also receive a small window cling to stick on the car window to remind them to grab their bags when shopping.

Santa Monica Plastic Bag Ban Takes Effect

26 July, 17:09, by admin

As of September 1, shoppers in Santa Monica, CA, stores will no longer be able to carry their goods away in plastic bags. In fact, they’ll even be charged 10 cents for every paper bag they request to use. Indeed, the full rush to recyclable bags in California is on. As of today, all 1,875 retail establishments in Santa Monica – including grocery stores – are banned from providing light-weight, single-use plastic carryout bags to customers at the point of sale.

“I look forward to the day when plastic bags stop swirling around our feet in the waves and no longer mar our beaches or kill marine life,” said Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, who has tried to get the bags banned statewide with her bill AB 1998, which so far has been shot down. “The American Chemistry Council thought it could kill this movement last year, but since then, six cities and counties have passed their own bans and a seventh won a legal ruling to proceed with its bag ordinance.”

Los Angeles County, Santa Clara County, and the cities of Long Beach, San Jose and Calabasas joined Santa Monica last year in outlawing the use of the bags. The ban only applies to plastic bags that are less than 2.25 millimeters thick, like the ones often supplied by groceries and pharmacies. Markets will be allowed to offer paper bags made from recycled content for a minimum fee of 10 cents per bag – money which will be kept by the stores to offset expenses. While the main purpose of the fee is to create a disincentive for using the disposable bags, the new ordinance is intended to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags to stores.

Not included in the ban are light-weight “product bags,” such as those found in a grocer’s produce section, and heavier plastic bags commonly used by retail shops. Also exempt from the ban are light-weight plastic bags for the carry-out food business, because hot liquid seeping through paper bags could cause injuries.

Seattle Bans Plastic Bags

26 July, 17:07, by admin

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The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a hotly-debated ordinance yesterday that bans the single use of plastic bags in grocery, retail, convenience and home-improvement stores. The bill also mandates that most customers pay five cents to buy a paper bag, a provision largely designed to urge consumers to purchase environmentally-friendly reusable totes. “The hope is by passing this legislation we can help shift behavior and get more people to use reusable bags instead of disposable bags,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien.

This is not the first time Seattle leaders have moved to legislate the use of plastic bags. In 2008, city officials implemented a 20-cent plastic bag fee, but the law was repealed a year later following an aggressive lobbying effort. The campaign to repeal the fee was led by the plastics industry, which spent approximately $1.4 million to win a reversal. It is unclear if leading manufacturers of plastics intend to fight the new ban.

“By voting to implement a ban on plastic bags, Seattle misses the opportunity to lead the way toward the meaningful reduction of litter through increased statewide recycling efforts,” said Mark Daniels, vice president for Hilex Poly, the biggest producer of plastic bags in the U.S. “This is bad policy for the environment and the consumer.”

It’s estimated that Seattle residents use 292 million plastic bags and 68 million paper bags every year. Only about 13% of plastic bags are recycled in the city, though, according to studies. As currently written, the new ordinance does not apply to produce or restaurant take-out bags and exempts low-income residents from having to pay a paper bag fee. The bill will now be sent to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn for approval and is scheduled to go into effect in July of 2012. The paper bag fee will continue until at least December of 2016 and could then be extended by legislators.

While Seattle’s ban is on the verge of becoming law, leaders in several other communities across the country – including Austin, TX, and Eugene, OR – are also considering regulating the use of plastic bags.

San Francisco Expands Plastic Bag Ban

26 July, 17:03, by admin

About five years after becoming the first city in the U.S. to enact a limited ban on single-use plastic bags in supermarkets and certain pharmacies, San Francisco has extended its ordinance to include hardware stores, gift shops and eventually restaurants. The expanded ordinance also will require shoppers to pay 10 cents for each paper bag stores provide to them. Revenues from bag fees will be kept by individual stores. “The complete ban on plastic bags I do support,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “I support it for all the environmental reasons.”

While some small business owners have balked at the legislation, the ordinance passed the city’s Board of Supervisors unanimously and has the support of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the California Grocers Association. In San Francisco alone, environmental officials estimate they spend $8.5 million annually to deal with plastic bag litter. “The passage of this legislation is a crucial next step in ensuring our responsibilities as stewards, and San Francisco’s commitment to our zero-waste goal by 2020 and in expanding the local green economy,” said Supervisor Christina Olague. “Now it’s time for San Francisco to catch up and continue to show environmental leadership.” City officials plan to enforce the ordinance beginning in October, but it won’t apply to restaurants until 2013. Stores that violate the ban would face fines of $100 for the first infraction, $200 for the second and $500 each time after that. The ordinance includes several exemptions, allowing plastic bags to be used for dry cleaning, newspapers, bulk candy and fresh flowers. Since San Francisco officials first passed a plastic bag ban in 2007, several other cities across the U.S., Europe and Asia have enacted stricter rules.