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Erie County is Striving to Reduce Single Use Bag Pollution
Erie County has been a leader in protecting our Great Lakes for decades. Most recently, Erie County worked to reduce plastic pollution through its local ban on microbeads, which ultimately helped to create the impetus for a federal law. The Erie County Environmental Management Council (ECEMC), a volunteer group that advises Erie County government on environmental issues, has recommended that Erie County build on that good work by passing legislation to reduce single use bag pollution.
In response to the ECEMC’s recommendation, the County Executive and the Department of Environment and Planning are working with several community partners to raise awareness about this issue and promote possible solutions.
The simplest solution to reduce single-use bag pollution is to:
- Remember to bring your own reusable bag(s) to the store.
- And return your bags back to the store for recycling – in general, single-use plastic bags are not accepted in curbside recycling.
- You can help raise awareness about this issue by participating in the social media campaign #ErieBYOBag
Our partners are helping to educate the public on the importance of reusable bags and proper recycling:
- Alliance for the Great Lakes
- Buffalo Museum of Science
- Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper
- Buffalo Zoo
- Citizen Campaign for the Environment
- City of Buffalo Public Works
- Erie County Department of Environment and Planning
- Erie County Environmental Management Council
- Greater Buffalo Recycling Alliance
- Matt Urban Hope Center
- Partnership for the Public Good
- Sierra Club Niagara Group
- WNY Stormwater Coalition
Ongoing & Upcoming Events
By using art projects and a developed S.T.E.A.M. curriculum, teachers can engage their students to understand their role in pollution prevention. "I am the Solution..." is the message, with the Art Projects and the Science Museum Exhibition set to motivate students to take creative approaches to understand their place in the natural environment.
A broad coalition of educators and organizations have gathered resources to provide interested teachers a program on plastic pollution education into their classrooms.
Please click here learn more
The Buffalo Zoo has dedicated their Polar Bear Exhibit to providing visitors with suggestions of ways to reduce our impact on our planet.
Take a picture with Terra, a polar bear made by volunteers from over 3,000 single use plastic bags!
Buffalo Zoo CEO Donna Fernandez, PhD., and County Executive Mark Poloncarz pose with Terra
- 8.27.17: We were spreading the word about making and bringing your own bag at the Elmwood Festival for the Arts
- 2.15.17: Plastic Bag Pollution community meeting
In the Media
News coverage for the Teacher Development Day for Teaching Pollution Prevention through Art and Science:
- 2.22.17 - VIDEO: Time Warner Cable News – Environmentalists discuss impact of single-use bags
- Check out a 2 the Outdoors piece.
- Listen to our radio commercial on Erie County's YouTube page
Spread the Word
Use the hashtag #ErieBYObag to:
• Respond to tweets
• Share your photos of bag litter
• Share photos of your reusable bags in action
• Take a picture with Terra and share it!
• Make suggestions
• Continue the dialogue
Four videos were created by the 2017 Erie 1 BOCES class at the Buffalo Zoo.
Make your Own Bag
You can make your own bag from an old t-shirt. This is a great project for scout troops, church groups, or school clubs. The bags your gorup makes can be donated to the Matt Urban Hope Center.
Check out this video to make a reusable shopping bag from an old t-shirt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cin_wLIW9S8
or click the images below for a downloadable PDF courtesy of the Matt Urban Hope Center!
Learn Why Single Use Bags are a Problem
- Both plastic and paper bags require vast amounts of our natural resources to manufacture and to transport.
- Fish and wildlife consume plastic pieces, mistaking them for food, or become ensnared in plastic debris.
- Recent studies have found high levels of plastics in the Great Lakes, and thousands of plastic bags are being found on Great Lakes beaches.
- Litter is not only costly to clean up but has been shown to reduce property values and influence tourism.
- Flooding can be caused when litter, such as single use bags, clog storm drains.
What are other communities doing to address this issue?
Laws intended to reduce single-use bags are no longer cutting edge; there are more than 150 such laws in the United States. New York City recently passed an anti-litter legislation and a state-wide law was passed in California. Moreover, there are many laws addressing this porblem throughout the world.
It is important to note that the communities with fees and/or bans have resulted in significant decreases in bag pollution (60 - 90%).
What can you do?
- Please add your name to our mailing/volunteer list
- Get involved in the conversation, Tweet your photo or comment about single-bag pollution at #ERIEBYOBag
- Remember to bring your reusable bag(s) to the store
- Return your single-use bags back to the store for recycling
Last updated: February 13, 2018 11:51am