Tag reusable grocery bags

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.