More than 100 organizations from all over the world took action on the International Plastic Bag Free Day, celebrated last 3rd July, to demand an end to plastic bags use and raise awareness about its impacts on the environment, most importantly in the marine ecosystems.
The growing number of groups that sign-on to this international day of action, and the wide variety of activities celebrated across the world, showed that sensitivity towards the impacts from plastic bags is increasing significantly. As a main result, communities are getting organized to demand effective measures to cut back plastic bags and plastic waste in general, which has been described as an ugly, unhealthy, unsustainable and useless product.
Furthermore, plastic bags are a major threat to biodiversity and contribute to maintaining the throwaway society patterns that are trashing our finite resources and polluting the environment. From a sustainability point of view, the 80 million of tones of plastic waste that can be found in the sea represent 100 million barrels of oil. These and other outstanding facts and figures about the impacts of plastic bags have been heard across the world in a wide variety of actions – see complete map of actions:
- At the European level, a coalition of environmental and waste prevention organisations urged EU Ministers to support a European Parliament proposal to set limits on environmentally damaging single-use plastic bags.
- In Brussels, many people joined their voices in a photo action to demand a ban for single use plastic bags.
- The touristic city of Pucón (Chile) approved a citywide regulation to limit the use of plastic bags in shops from June 1st 2014 onwards to just one bag per purchase and it’s planning to progressively increase the limitations. Similarly, in the city of Concepción, the local Fundación El Árbol joined the city authorities to raise awareness about the harmful impacts of plastic bags.
- In Argentina, several activities marked the day with radio programs,workshops and screening of videos+debate around the impacts of plastic waste.
- In Greece, the famous Greek American director and actress, Angela Delichatsiou, gave a performance, focused on the use of plastic bags in Greece, titled “Daphne in the Farmers’ Market”.
- In Catalonia, Spain, the Fundació per a la Prevenció de Residus lead a social media action for everyone to share ‘selfies’ of their reusable items to avoid plastic bags. In Barcelona, the organization promoted alternatives to plastic bags in the food markets of the city.
- In Sofia, local groups organized a flash-mob titled “Get the Head out of the Bag”.
- In Berlin, a collective action protested against the excessive use of plastic bags and provided the opportunity to children and general public to create their own cloth bags upcycling recycled textiles while enjoying the performances of the Plastic Monster.
In Bangladesh, the Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) and Poribesh Bachao Andolon (POBA) met outside the National Press Club to form a human chain and ask the government to take action to enforce the ban on polythene bags in Bangladesh.
- In Bhutan, Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative [SJI] conducted IEC about a new initiative that community shopkeepers have taken on: to discontinue giving plastic bags for free.
- In Malaysia, the Consumers Äô Association of Penang (CAP) spend the day in the Bayan Baru Market in Penang, distributing free reusable bags made from discarded t-shirts.
- In Philippines, the 3rd Quadi-Annual Waste Audit with GAIA, EcoWaste, Greenpeace, MotherEarth Foundation, Miss Earth Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard
The organizers of the International Plastic Bag Free Day expressed their satisfaction with the international response to the call out for action.
“Plastic bags are a great place to start taking action and design waste out of our systems”, said Joan Marc Simon, Zero Waste Europe ‘s Executive Director, one of the organizing networks together with GAIA and Fundació per a la Prevenció de Residus. “We are moving forward building up zero waste societies that are resource-efficient and plastic bags have no place in them”.
The campaign for a Plastic Bag Free World will continue throughout the year on a regular basis supporting groups and individuals all over the world in its mission to phase out plastic bags from our consumption habits and ecosystems.
Further info: www.plasticbagfreeday.org
Plastic Bag Free Day @bagfreeday