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White Plains Builds Awareness Of Pitfalls Of Plastic Bag Use

The city will hand out about 400 of the White Plains Reusable bags at its Earth Day event April 27.
The city will hand out about 400 of the White Plains Reusable bags at its Earth Day event April 27. Photo Credit: City of White Plains

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – While some municipalities have passed laws banning the use of single-use plastic bags, White Plains is focusing on building awareness to change behaviors, said Karen Pasquale, of the mayor’s office.

Part of its awareness campaign is the creation of the White Plains Reusable Bag. The city held a logo design contest in the White Plains schools. The winner, Max Crawley, had his design printed on the bag, which has been distributed at local participating retailers such as  ShopRite, Stop & Shop, Target, Wal-Mart and Whole Foods.

On April 27, about 400 more of these bags, bearing Crawley’s design, will be handed out to residents attending the city’s Sustain White Plains event for Earth Day.

“The purpose of the bag is to encourage people to change their behavior and create new habits,” Pasquale said. “If a reusable bag is readily available to you, you are less likely to use plastic. By putting reusable bags into the hands of consumers we are hoping to foster this change.”

The city is not ruling out exploring a future ban on plastic bags. The Village of Larchmont passed a plastic bag ban Tuesday, becoming the third to do so in Westchester after the Village of Mamaroneck and Rye . Tuckahoe held a public hearing on the matter March 11.

A reusable bag has handles and is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple uses. This bag can be made out of cloth, fabric or plastic, if it is at least 2.25 millimeters thick.

According to the Clean Air Council, Americans use about 1 billion plastic nonbiodegradable plastic shopping bags each year, only 12 percent of which were recycled in 2010.

"Almost every environmental consequence has a human health consequence, from wild fires to global warming to the use of plastics," said Patti Wood, of Grassroots Environmental Education. "Every little piece of plastic that ends up in the oceans, which is a great amount, and plastics persist because they don't break down easily. As plastic photodegrades, it becomes a magnet for toxic chemicals like persistent organic pollutants."

Single-use plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes and take up to 1,000 years to degrade in landfills, if they break down at all, according to the city. A half-million plastic bags are used every minute in the United States.

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