Prince George's Group

A survey conducted by the Prince George's Sierra Club and the Neighbors of the Northwest Branch of shoppers at five major grocery chains in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties shows the potentially large impact of a small bag fee on shopper behavior and, ultimately, on plastic bag trash in the state’s waterways. Shoppers with bagged groceries in Montgomery County, which adopted a 5-cent fee on disposable carryout bags in 2012, were seven times more likely to use a reusable shopping bag (57%) than were shoppers in Prince George’s County (8%), which does not have a fee. Read more

Bag Counter


Photo: Susie Foushée records shoppers’ bag behavior at a Giant in Bowie. 

Single-use disposable plastic bags are an important source of litter and are harmful to wildlife and the environment.  The Prince George’s Sierra Club Group and the Neighbors of the Northwest Branch in Montgomery County are collaborating on a two-county survey of reusable bag use.  A 2012 survey of nearly 8,000 shoppers exiting 51 grocery stores in Prince George’s County found that only 7% were using reusable bags. The 2014 survey will document changes in reusable bag behavior in Prince George’s in the absence of a bag fee, while the results for Montgomery will document higher levels of reusable bag use in a county where a 5-cent bag fee was adopted in early 2012. Read more

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Recycling CenterThe Prince George’s Group supports Zero Waste!

Efforts to promote Zero Waste – by reducing, reusing, and recycling –.lighten our footprint on the planet and conserve precious materials.  In 2010, Prince George’s County buried about 350,000 tons of materials in its landfill and County shoppers remained addicted to single-use plastic grocery bags, which litter the environment and harm wildlife.

The Prince George’s Sierra Club Group is sponsoring many events to educate members about how to achieve Zero Waste, including:

  • an “Environmental Forum” of a dozen Prince George’s Environmental groups, featuring speakers on Zero Waste
  • field trips to the landfill, the yard waste and composting facility, and the single-stream recycling center
  • activities to promote the use of reusable grocery bags in the county, including showings of “Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic?”, bag giveaways at local grocery stores, and support for a bag incentive in Prince George’s County.

The Group first became involved in 2012 in the reusable bag campaign, promoting a fee for disposable bags and conducting a baseline survey of reusable bag use in 51 grocery stores in Prince George’s County.  Only 7 percent of nearly 8,000 County shoppers exited the stores with at least one reusable bag (see the blog at right).  The Group will be enlisting volunteers to repeat the survey in early 2014 to chart progress in reducing single-use shopping bags, which litter the environment and harm wildlife, and will continue to promote reusable bags and the bag bill.

In 2013-14 the Group’s campaign is expanding to promote action on other dimensions of zero waste – recycling and composting.   Nearly two dozen Sierrans visited the single-stream recycling facility in Capitol Heights over the summer.  Speakers at the September 15th Environmental Forum argued forcefully for the economics of “waste to wealth,” increased composting, and recycling of building materials.  Follow-on field trips are being sponsored to the yard waste and composting facility (November 1), the landfill (November 8), and a repeat visit to the single-stream recycling facility (November 15th).

The County Council is taking steps toward zero waste!  Since last year, the Council:

  •  Raised the County’s recycling goal to 60 percent by 2020
  • Required businesses to recycle and apartments to provide convenient recycling
  • Created a food-composting pilot program
  • Banned plastic bags for yard waste
  • Allocated funding for a zero-waste strategic plan for the County.

But more remains to be done – get involved by joining the field trips and volunteering to participate in the bag use survey and reusable bag promotion at your local grocery store!

Last updated Thu, 2013-11-21