‘A Bag’s Life’ program aims to raise awareness
What happens to the plastic bags used by shoppers?
Much of them are added to the pollution already threatening the planet, according to a local advocacy group.
Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB) is a statewide campaign entitled “A Bag’s Life” organized to help educate the public about the growing concern of these bags.
West and Southwest Philadelphia retailers, churches and school leaders have chipped in to support the effort.
According to materials distributed by the group, “A Bag’s Life” encourages individuals to reduce, reuse and recycle used grocery bags and other plastics, many of which can be recycled for productive use.
Over 1,400 retailers across the state have joined in the effort by offering drop-off sites where unwanted plastics can be dropped off.
“Retailers across the state are well aware of the impact plastic bag litter has on our roadways and agricultural environment,” said Phoebe Coles, KPB president.
It’s one thing to recycle plastic bags, says Coles, but one should also be motivated to avoid their use at all.
“We are not only trying to make people aware of what they should do when they finish using their plastic bags but we are also trying to make them aware of alternatives to using them in the first place or recycling them at the end of their use,” she said.
West and Southwest Philadelphia were firsthand examples of what could be done with recycled plastics.
“Last year we did a campaign called ‘Bags to blankets’ and for every 200 bags we collected they were able to donate a blanket, made from recycled plastic, to a family in need. One of the six schools in Philadelphia was the School of the Future,” said Coles. As a result of its efforts, the school, located 40th and Parkside in was able to donate 25 blankets to the Salvation Army.
According to Coles, the students not only collected the bags themselves, but also went to the ShopRite located at 52nd and Jefferson and spoke to the shoppers about the importance of recycling.
“We have really had a lot of student interest in the project this year and we continue with a general recycling contest and we hope that more communities and more schools will get involved,” Coles said.
Blankets aren’t the only benefit to recycling plastics. Two West Philadelphia areas have park benches made from such plastics as well.
“One of the by-products of recycled bags is plastic lumber,” Coles said. “This is the plastic used for decking or playground equipment, including benches. With the help of Giant Food store, benches made from recycled plastics have been placed in West Philadelphia areas such as Saunders Park located 39th and Powelton Avenue and Bibleway Baptist Church on the 1300 block of North 52nd Street.
“Plastic is made from oil and so the plastic that we waste has a direct impact on our environment,” Coles said. “When you talk about gas prices or the oil for your home, something as simple as a plastic bag has an impact on that.”