Spreading Green Cheer Throughout Los Angeles

Green Santa and his eco-elves made a stop in historic Los Angeles distributing more than 1,000 reusable bags at Olvera Street and $1000 in Vons/Pavilions gift cards to families, tourists and holiday shoppers as part of Heal the Bay’s 6th annual A Day Without a Bag.

Across Los Angeles County on December 20, Heal the Bay staff and volunteers gave away 15,000 bags to promote going reusable for the holidays and in preparation for the L.A. City bag ban ordinance that’s poised to move forward in spring 2013.

To date, Heal the Bay has given away 100,000 reusable bags as part of an ongoing outreach effort to get Angelenos to forgo their plastic bags in favor of reusable ones.

Kirsten James, Heal the Bay’s Water Quality Director, noted that Olvera Street, as the birthplace of Los Angeles, was the perfect spot to talk about making history with a bag ban. “L.A. is poised to be the largest city in the U.S. to ban plastic bags. When that happens, our city will be a model for the rest of the nation,” she told the dozens of people who had lined up to recieve reusable bags.

Every year California municipalities spend nearly $25 million just to collect and properly dispose of plastic bag waste. Only 5% of plastic grocery bags are recycled annually in L.A. Plastic bags clog our waterways and are harmful to human health and marine life.

A Day Without A Bag 2012 Golden Ticket Winner at Olvera StreetAt Olvera Street, each reusable bag recipient had a chance of finding a “golden ticket” inside good for a $25 Vons/Pavilions gift card. Vons/Pavilions also sponsored giftcard giveways at its Hollywood stores.

“Vons is happy to partner with Heal the Bay on A Day Without a Bag,” said Jenna Watkinson, Manager, Public Affairs and Government Relations at Von’s. “We feel that part of being the neighborhood grocery store is being a good neighbor. Our commitment to the environment plays a huge part in being that good neighbor.”

Albertsons and Ralphs markets also partnered with us to promote A Day Without a Bag, as did the City and County of Los Angeles and EarthWise Bag Company Inc. Commissioner Capri Maddox, vice president of the Los Angeles City Board of Public Works, and Jim Cragg from Green Vets LA (which provides local military veterans with jobs making reusable bags), joined Heal the Bay at Olvera Street to share the good news about reusable bags reducing litter and creating green jobs in Los Angeles.

This year Heal the Bay also focused on youth to advocate for change in their own communities, training them on how to build support for the ban all over the city. On December 1 we organized the Day Without a Bag Youth Summit, bringing together 35 students and teachers from eight different schools, including Apex Academy.

A group of students from Apex helped distribute Vons/Pavilions gift cards in Hollywood and garnered support for reusables at Amoeba Music and the East Hollywood Farmers market.

We also launched our Rockin’ Reusables contest this year, encouraging people to share images of everday use of reusable items. Melissa from Huntington Beach won our grand prize for sharing her “Off to the grocery store!” photo on Instagram. Congratulations, Melissa!

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