Erie BYOBag - Single Use Bag Pollution

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Earth Day and beyond:

Student Art Exhibition

April 22 thru May 31, 2018


Starting on Earth Day, April 22, 2018, and running through the month of May, selected artwork created by students using single-use plastic shopping bags will be on display at the Buffalo Museum of Science.

Also on display are nine beautifully painted rain barrels submitted by students and sponsored by the WNY Stormwater Coalition. This is a great opportunity to learn about and share your thoughts concerning the amount of plastic we all use daily and its effect on our natural environment.

We all can be a part of the sollution, doing our important part.

 Visit for more information


Local Efforts

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:

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

Erie County Executive and Buffalo Zoo CEO with Terra the Bear

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

Past Events

In the Media

Spread the Word 

Social Media

To stay informed and participate in our ongoing public discussion that focuses on finding a solution to plastic pollution, be sure to follow @ErieBYObag ( on Twitter.

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  

View the pictures!

Student Projects

 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 group 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 

or click the images below for a downloadable PDF courtesy of the Matt Urban Hope Center!




 Learn Why Single Use Bags are a Problem

Bird with single-use bag

  • 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?

plastic bag pollution

  • 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

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Last updated: August 1, 2018 1:47pm