The BYOBag Committee was organized in the fall of 2013 with the purpose of reducing the use of plastic bags in our county and asking McHenry County residents to bring their own, reusable bags when shopping anytime, anywhere.
The committee represents the whole of beautiful McHenry County, IL, home to the newly established Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge; acres of open space; old growth oak forests; farmland and prairies; rivers and wetlands. We understand environmental issues know no borders and encourage neighboring counties to mirror our efforts as we join the many cities and counties across the United States that have already done their part to reduce the use of plastic bags.
We are working right now, reaching out to towns and businesses to bring about change. This is a team effort that can have lasting, positive effects for our communities in many ways.
There are certain things we need in life and there are certain things that we can simply live without. When the latter (i.e. plastic bags) have also proven to cause long-lasting degradation to our environment, polluting waterways, overflowing landfills, and harming wildlife, it is time to make a culture shift from our “convenience” lifestyle toward a more responsible, sustainable and globally minded one. Reflecting on the THREE Rs, it is the
“REDUCE” that comes first. REDUCE, REUSE & then RECYCLE. If one person can shop without using plastic (or paper!) bags, we all can.
The committee strongly supports a teamwork approach to helping shape the future of a plastic bag-free McHenry County. In Algonquin, LITH, Crystal Lake, Crystal Lake and Woodstock the conversation has already begun. Our committee towns include an educational message on Village/City Web sites asking residents to use reusable bags in place of “free” plastic and papers bags given out at stores.
On the evening of July 19th, 2016, the McHenry County Board unanimously proclaimed August 2016 as a county wide BYOBag (Bring Your Own Bag) month.
Our goal is to encourage this dialogue in all towns in McHenry County. Common language and logo representing our efforts will unite the movement toward reducing our use of plastic bag, as well as paper bags. Eventually, towns in our county may consider new regulations, rules or ordinances for deeper change leading to the sustainability of this program into the future and for future generations. Such change could reflect the complete absence of plastic bags at checkout and a charge for paper bags.
Other options might be a charge for both plastic and paper, a practice already incorporated into Aldi stores in our communities. Any change should be worked through carefully so that retailers do not see an increase in spending, but a savings as customers rely solely on carrying their own reusable bags. There are many examples and lessons from which to draw from around the country, including from our neighbors to the east, Chicago and Evanston.
The Environmental Defenders has been very fortunate to receive two grants through the McHenry County Community Foundation and it is with their generosity that we look forward to giving BYOBag signs to grocery and retails stores in our county to help educate residents and encourage change.
For more information and assistance in bringing BYOBag to your town, please contact the office: EnviroDefMC@gmail.com.