Relishing Reusable Bag Day
By: Jenn Swart, Programs Associate with Heal the Bay
In an election cycle where it might seem that only adults have the microphone, the youth of the greater LA area were able to voice their concerns by engaging the public in a real-life campaign action. By attending Heal the Bay’s Ban the Bag Youth Summit, 55 students and club members got trained as bag-tivists to host reusable bag giveaways in their communities in celebration of Reusable Bag Day on Oct 20th, 2016.
As plastic waste continues to expand as a global threat to our land and marine environments, voters have the opportunity to significantly diminish the use of plastics in California by voting YES on Prop 67 to uphold the statewide single-use plastic bag ban. In order to get the word out, student groups and high school clubs approached grocery stores and asked to partner with them for a reusable bag giveaway aimed to educate the public about the deleterious effects of plastic pollution and to prepare customers for the upcoming ban should it pass.
In total, Heal the Bay volunteers ran 15 different giveaway sites– from Thousand Oaks to Irvine, from La Crescenta to Santa Monica– where more than 3,000 bags were distributed along with a smile and a voter guide aimed at educating the public about the importance of a Yes on 67 vote.
The students from Club Heal the Bay had a fun time handing out free bags while gaining real campaign experience. Here’s what some of them had to say:
“This was definitely something out of my comfort zone and something I was not so sure I was capable of doing but we were successful in promoting the proposition and educating our community. Although some people thought we were trying to sell them items and ignored us, the people who stopped to hear us out definitely seemed interested and agreed with our views.”
— Angelica Astorga of King Drew High School’s One World Club
“Our team had a good experience and fun speaking with folks about plastics and Prop 67 on the ballot. We got stronger and more vocal as time went by, speaking out loud and having a short phrase that encouraged folks to remember where they should be looking for it on their ballots– it’s the last numbered proposal on the ballot, not to be confused by 65 and the ‘environmental’ fund suggested by out of state plastic bag manufacturers.” (Heal the Bay supports a NO on 65 vote.)
— Linda Sallas of Pilgrim School
“Viewpoint High School’s Heal the Bay Club, attended a youth summit a couple of weeks ago where we were provided with the information and skills necessary to talk to citizens about Prop 67 and about Reusable Bag Day. This seminar truly helped us with the event we held at Gelson’s on October 20th, where we handed out 150 free reusable bags and 50 voter guides. We had a lot of fun meeting the people of Westlake Village as we spread the word about environmental conservation and talked to local citizens about Proposition 67 which is a plan to ban all single-use plastic bags in the state of California. We spoke to voters about how to support this proposition and how it will benefit the environment and ecosystem of the ocean. Now all we can do is wait to see if their hard work pays off as November 8th is right around the corner.”
— Ian Sheets of Viewpoint Heal the Bay Club
“There was about 15 of us standing outside of both entrances of Ralph’s in Thousand Oaks to educate and handout bags. We had a lot of fun bringing awareness about the props and had a handful of people that didn’t agree but otherwise everyone was really interested and vowing to vote yes on 67.”
— Fallon Rabin of ACE Recycle Club
“It was a unique experience because some people just didn’t really care while some people really liked the bags that we gave out and were really against plastic bags. Another thing is that once we did pass out the bag, people came out using those bags and they thanked us for it. Moreover, some people came to talk to us about the Proposition and one woman said that she was from Northern California where the bag banning experience was common! All in all, it was quite enriching and an eye opener.”
— JiHyun Park of Crean Lutheran Heal the Bay Club
In the hours leading up to the bag giveaways, Heal the Bay staff and volunteers took to the streets to hand out reusable bags and voter guides. Using the Expo Line Metro as their conduit, the Reusable Bag Day crew– featuring the Bag Monster, its victim the Octopus, and the endearing hero, the Reusable Bag– made their way through train cars, stations and platforms downtown and onto the University of Southern California campus to promote their message.
This campaign has become a central focus for Heal the Bay and their coalition partners as plastic pollution clogs our streets and oceans, affecting 636 marine species each year that ingest or become entangled in its waste. No matter what your voting status, we all have a role to play in securing a plastic-free future and setting an example for the rest of the nation. Help spread the word for YES on 67 and don’t forget to vote!!