Plastic bags are the most common polythene waste that pollute the environment. The problem of marine plastic pollution is particularly acute, accounting for 70% of litter in marine waters. On average, a person uses a bag for 12 minutes before throwing it away. Most plastic bags are made from material that cannot be recycled or is uneconomical to do so. Plastic bags do not degrade, but take up to 400 years to break down into tiny particles (micro plastic) that contaminate soil and water and enter the animal and human food chain. According to a European directive, we must reduce the use of plastic bags to 80 pcs/person/year by 2021 and to 40 by 2025. Currently, we use an average of over 200 pieces/person/year. The degradable bags introduced do not solve the problem. The only difference from standard ones is that they become invisible faster because of their faster degradation into tiny particles.
The paper bags that are considered a better alternative are actually much more resource intensive. The production of paper for so-called ‘eco-bags’ and ‘eco-packaging’ has increased manifold. Despite the advent of electronic documents, paper consumption has increased 2.5 times worldwide in the last 40 years, according to the German organisation ‘Forum for Ecology and Paper’. The main reason for the increase is paper packaging, the share of which has jumped several times due to the growth of e-commerce after the Covid-crisis. Black statistics show that one in five trees on the planet is cut down for paper production.
Conduct an awareness campaign “#NoBagsNotSie” to make people aware of the harm of single-use plastic bags, the scale of plastic pollution and the harm to nature and human health.
For the past 2 years, the Public Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development has been holding volunteer actions in the central market of Varna on 3 July – the International Day without Plastic Bags. In 2019 we distributed reusable bags. In 2020, we rewarded consumers who came to the same place with their reusable bag. They received a voucher for a second hand book which they could pick up from the association office. The action took place within an hour in the area of the Blue Market.
In 2021, we are scaling up the campaign by running it in all major markets in all areas of Varna during several peak shopping hours in the run-up to 3 July – International No Plastic Bags Day and on the day itself. We are rewarding every customer who agrees to participate in the campaign with a photo and a short message, such as #NoMercyBag or “Get your head out of a bag”, with a practical reusable shopping bag. We post a video and/or photo report from each market that people vote for on Facebook. The reportage that receives the most votes secures a prize – a “Favorite market for shopping with an eco-bag” certificate and a promotional vinyl with the same text, which are publicly presented to the market management.
The first action against plastic bags was carried out by the Public Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development on 21 November 1998 in front of the six major supermarkets in the city then. Varna’s largest daily newspaper at the time, Narodno deldo, followed the action in front of the Macao and White Bear stores, and on Monday ran a front-page headline “Varna residents get an ecology lesson in… a shopping bag”.
Getting people into the habit of shopping with reusable bags.
Reducing the use of plastic bags and plastic pollution.
A cleaner and healthier environment.