WHAT IS A PLASTIC-FREE TOWN?

A part of the Plastic Pollution Coalition network of communities around the globe that seek to eliminate disposable plastic and to measurably reduce their overall plastic footprints. In partnership with local organizations, PPC follows three steps:

1.   Audit of common sources of plastic pollution in the community.  These sources vary significantly between geographies, but include plastic bottles, plastic bags, straws, cups, utensils and a stream of disposable plastic products, including polystyrene to-go cups and containers.

2.   Evaluation and identification of viable, locally sourced alternatives to the sources of plastic pollution.

3.   Develop a plan to reduce plastic pollution by incorporating a measurement and a reporting mechanism. These include community outreach and engagement, support for locally sourced, low-carbon footprint alternatives, and long-term monitoring.

PLASTIC BAGS

How to start a bag ban in your town: 

To start a movement to eliminate plastic bags, we believe each community has the right and obligation to decide the best way to do so.  Below we have listed some resources.
 

Step 1: Educate yourself on the dangers of plastic bags.


Step 2: Build the local movement and get citizens on board with the idea.

  • Host a screening of such informative documentaries as Bag It or Plastic Paradise as a way to get people together to talk about why a single-use bag ban might be a good idea. Check our Films page for more titles;
  • PPC’s Public Service Announcement ”Buried in Plastic” (endorsed for use by the Ad Council) and other PPC YouTube channel PSA’s and videos are available to share. Encourage your local network to run our ads as a way to further bolster community support;
  • For more ideas and to learn about community organizing, check out Surfrider’s Rise Above Plastics campaign and ChicoBag’s Advocacy Toolkit.


Step 3: Connect with others working to ban the bag.  Search the Internet for local activism groups and get their newsletters, join their Facebook pages etc. Engagement via social media is an easy, effective way to get involved!

  • The Clean Seas Coalition has worked on many successful, recent bans passed in California and shares a lot of useful information on its site.
  • Green Cities California posts single-use reduction efforts that other locales can emulate. 
  • ChicoBag hosts a map to help you find successful ordinances near you.


Step 4: Study successful ordinances.
Hundreds of bag bans have been passed throughout the world. We recommend reading through some of the model ordinances out there, including:

The website PlasticBagLaws.org also documents a host of other legislative efforts and useful links.


Step 5: Write to friends and local businesses you support.  It’s amazing how effective a simple letter can be.

  • Educate friends and local businesses and encourage them to join you in banning the bag;
  • Sample letters you can copy and paste are available here.


Step 6: Contact your local representatives.

  • Write to or call your mayor, city council members, or state representatives to voice your support for a bag ordinance and encourage other like-minded members of your community to do the same;
  • You can start a free petition to rally support and find contact info for your local representatives on your city government’s website;
  • Contact information for state representatives is available on the Bag It! movie website here.


Step 7: Keep us posted!  We will happily promote your efforts and celebrate your successes. Simply comment here or on our Facebook page and we’ll help you get the word out.


EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE (EPS) FOAM

How to start an EPS ban in your town:  

To start a movement to eliminate foam, we believe each community has the right and obligation to decide the best way to do so.  Below we have listed some resources.


Step 1: Educate yourself on the dangers of polystyrene foam.

  • Expanded polystyrene foam is an environmental pollutant and non-biodegradable substance commonly used as disposable foodservice cups, plates, and containers. Often mistakenly referred to as Styrofoam, which is a Dow Chemical Company-trademarked form of polystyrene foam insulation, EPS is a petroleum-based plastic. It came into wide usage because it is lightweight, offers good insulation properties that keep products cold or hot, and keeps things safe during the shipping process without adding weight. 
  • Styrene is broadly used in the manufacture of plastics, resins, and rubber. The Environmental Protection Agency and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have established styrene as a possible human carcinogen. Most notably, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the U.S. National Toxicology Program, listed styrene as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" in the 13th Report on Carcinogens.
  • Non-biodegradable: Polystyrene foam appears to last forever, as it is resistant to photolysis, or the breaking down of materials by photons originating from a light source. This, combined with the fact that foam is lightweight and therefore floats, means that over time a great deal of polystyrene has accumulated along coasts and waterways around the world. It is now considered a main component of marine debris, a.k.a. plastic pollution.

 
Step 2: Build the local movement and get citizens on board with the idea.

  • Host a screening of such informative documentaries as Bag It, Disruption or Plastic Paradise as a way to get people together to talk about why an expanded polystyrene foam ban might be a good idea. Check our Films page for more titles;
  • PPC’s Public Service Announcement ”Buried in Plastic” (endorsed for use by the Ad Council) and other PPC YouTube channel PSA’s and videos are available to share. Encourage your local network to run our ads as a way to further bolster community support;
  • For more ideas and to learn about community organizing, check out Surfrider’s Rise Above Plastics campaign and ChicoBag’s Advocacy Toolkit.


Step 3: Connect with others working to ban foam. Search the Internet for local activism groups and get their newsletters, join their Facebook pages etc. Better yet, start your own Facebook group page. Engagement via social media is an easy, effective way to get involved.


Step 4: Study successful ordinances.

Currently, all bans in the United States have appeared on a citywide or countywide level. Some of the cities and counties listed below have complete bans on Styrofoam and other polystyrene foam, which includes all places of business and public facilities. Others have enacted partial bans, regarding foam use in public facilities. We recommend reading through some of the model ordinances out there, including:

The website www.surfrider.org/pages/polystyrene-ordinances also documents a host of other legislative efforts and useful links.

View a map and list of cities/counties with polystyrene foam bans across the USA here.
 

Step 5: Write to friends and local businesses you support. It’s amazing how effective a simple letter can be.

  • Educate friends, local businesses and local civic groups and encourage them to join you in banning polystyrene foam;
  • Sample letters you can use/edit are available:

Restaurant/industry letter of support
Green Chamber of Commerce, CA – letters supporting statewide ban
— NYC press release – quotes and polystyrene facts


Step 6: Contact your local representatives.

  • Write to or call your mayor, city council members, or state representatives to voice your support for an anti-polystyrene ordinance and encourage other like-minded members of your community to do the same;
  • Go to local government meetings (county legislature, city council, town board) and make your voice heard;
  • You can start a free petition to rally support and find contact info for your local representatives on your city government’s website. View sample on-line petition here.

 
Step 7: Keep us posted!
 We will happily promote your efforts and celebrate your successes. Simply comment here or on our Facebook page and we’ll help you get the word out.