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January 22, 2013 > Reusable bag giveaway

Reusable bag giveaway

Submitted By Clean Water Program

Between January 22 and February 2, 2013, member agencies of the Clean Water Program will be holding reusable bag giveaway events, in support of the countywide reusable bag ordinance that went into effect on January 1. The ordinance prohibits stores that sell packaged food or alcohol from giving away single-use bags at checkout, and requires them to charge a minimum of 10 cents per paper or reusable bag, in the hopes that shoppers will bring their own reusable bags to the store.

The following reusable bag giveaways are scheduled, while supplies last. All events are free to the public.

* Dublin: Tue, Jan 22: 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. lobby of the Dublin library, 200 Civic Plaza, Dublin
* San Leandro: Fri, Jan 25: 10 a.m. -12 noon, Pac N Save supermarket, 555 Floresta Blvd.
* Emeryville: Fri, Feb 1: 3 p.m. - 5 p.m., Pac N Save supermarket, San Pablo Ave at 40th St.
* Hayward: Sat, Feb 2: 9 a.m. - 12 noon, Hayward Farmers Market, 777 B Street (City Plaza)
* Oakland: Sat, Feb 2: 9 a.m. - 11 a.m., next to Foodvale Market, 3401 International Blvd (Fruitvale)

"We want to raise awareness about the harm disposable plastic bags pose to the health of our local creeks and San Francisco Bay, and so we are encouraging residents to get into the habit of using reusable bags," explained Clean Water Program Manager Jim Scanlin, "Each year, the equivalent of 100,000 kitchen garbage bags worth of litter end up in our local waterways, including an estimated 1 million disposable plastic bags," he added.

In Alameda County storm water does not pass through a water treatment plant. This means that litter and other pollutants carried into the storm drain system by wind and water flow directly into creeks and the Bay, where they harm fish, marine mammals and birds. Plastic bags and other lightweight plastic litter don't biodegrade and are particularly hazardous because they float, entangling and poisoning marine wildlife that mistakes the items for food.

In addition to its environmental impacts, litter is also an eyesore and puts a heavy financial burden on communities. Alameda County jurisdictions spend approximately $24 million every year on litter and storm drain cleanup.

Under the Federal Clean Water Act, cities in the Bay Area are required to reduce or eliminate storm water pollution in order to comply with the Municipal Regional Stormwater Permit, issued by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Board. Under the current permit, Alameda County must reduce trash discharge from storm drains by 40% by 2014, and by 70% by 2017. The ban is expected to go a long way toward reaching those goals.

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