If you’re like most people I know, you’ve got scores of unused plastic bags stuffed away in a kitchen drawer or cupboard. Wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow turn these into reusable bags?
Well, depending on where you live, that’s exactly what you can do. Many local governments around the world have created a plastic bag exchange program.
A plastic bag exchange program is where you take all your unused plastic bags and exchange them for a reusable bag, usually made from a natural fiber such as jute or calico. Most programs involve community members swapping either 10 or 20 plastic bags for one reusable bag.
Here are some examples of local governments around the world who have initiated a plastic bag exchange program:
- Sydney City Council (Australia) - In 2004, the City of Sydney undertook a 2 month plastic bag exchange to coincide with World Environment Day 2004. Residents could exchange 20 plastic bags for one calico bag.
- Hobsons Bay City Council (Australia) - The Hobsons Bay City Council gave residents one reusable bag for every 10 plastic bags.
- Brimbank City Council (Australia) - Council gave residents one reusable bag for every 10 plastic bags during the exchange period.
- Westchester County (US) - Department of Environmental Facilities are holding a two day plastic bag exchange program as I write this! Residents will receive a free reusable bag for every 20 plastic bags they bring in.
- Plano (US) - As part of Plano’s “citywide cleanup”, residents can exchange plastic bags for free reusable bags.
And, it’s not only governments that are initiating plastic bag exchange programs. According to this article, Grass Shoots intend to set up a “plastic bag amnesty” where residents can get a free reusable bag made from jute or cotton.
Many of these programs run for short periods of time, so keep an eye out to see if your local council intends to run a plastic bag exchange program. Or even better, suggest it to your council!