Press release from the Ithaca Farmers Market:
Ithaca Farmers Market vendors begin to eliminate plastic bag use with a visit from the Bag Monster
Ithaca, NY — The Bag Monster – a once-mythical but now horrifyingly real creature – will be at the Ithaca Farmer's Market this weekend to give market consumers some perspective on plastic bag consumption.
Expect to see him shambling along the market pavilion's walkways, covered in unused plastic bags, complaining about how cool disposable bags used to be.
But now the market has convinced him to be our emissary, and give customers information on how pervasive our plastic bag habit is, and what we all can do to reduce our impact.
Starting at the June 4, 2011 Saturday Market, vendors will be offering customers only compostable Bio-Bags or paper bags. Bio-Bags are made in the United States from agricultural products and are environmentally-friendly. Certain vendors currently offer reused plastic bags, which will continue to be allowed.
The market will have other informational literature about the phase-out available, along with other reasons why our society's plastic bag habit is unsustainable.
“Only a small percentage of plastic bags are recycled, and most of these are down-cycled,” says Robin Ostfeld, owner of Blue Heron Farm and a member of the market's Board of Directors. “Most plastic bags end up in landfills, where they can take up to 1000 years to degrade. Plastic bags are a very visible form of unsightly litter, and can endanger wildlife by entanglement or ingestion.”
“Several cities in the U.S. and a few California farmers markets have pioneered the move, but the Ithaca Farmers Market is excited to bring the initiative here to the east coast and the upstate New York region.”
Over the next three years, the Ithaca Farmers Market, a beloved local cooperative dedicated to supporting local farmers, artisans and chefs, will phase out its vendors' use of single-use plastic bags, in a move toward sustainability that makes it the first farmers market on the east coast to do so.
Market vendors currently use more than 100,000 bags a year. The market is taking the lead on this important environmental initiative to show members of the local community that a bag-free world is possible. Every year in the U.S an estimated 90,000,000 plastic bags are used, requiring millions of barrels of oil in their manufacture.
The Market also promotes using reusable bags. Currently the market sells a reusable cloth grocery bag for $2.
In the 2012 market season, the market will have bag dispensers for Bio-Bags and reusable cloth bags, where customers can buy bags if they forget them.
By 2013, the market will no longer offer single-use plastic bags, but will still sell reusable cloth bags in dispensers.
In addition to eliminating plastic bags, the market has implemented a number of other sustainability initiatives: it has required vendors to use compostable utensils for food and drinks for years, which has diverted multiple tons of waste from the landfill. That waste is instead converted into agricultural fertilizer by Cayuga Compost. The market has also purchased new Xlerator hand dryers and will phase out paper towels in its bathrooms.
The Ithaca Farmer’s Market is a cooperative with 150 vendors who live within 30 miles of Ithaca, New York. Agricultural vendors grow and offer high quality fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, poultry and dairy products. Food vendors bring a wide variety of freshly baked goods, jellies, honey, and sauces as well as delicious meals to eat at the market. Many talented artists and craftspeople sell their exceptional, locally made items.