a pile of trash sitting on top of a river bank

Give Up the Bag for Lent

[Katie Dix is Blue Water Baltimore’s Volunteer Manager. She recruits, trains, and coordinates the many volunteers and programs that enable us to accomplish our mission.]

Last month nearly seven hundred sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School signed a pledge to reduce their plastic consumption after they viewed Bag It, a documentary about the effects of plastic. Take three minutes to watch the trailer.

The documentary, challenges us to accept that “just because plastic is disposable, doesn’t mean it just goes away.”


In fact, plastic persists in our waterways; according to a new report from the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation the ocean will contain more plastic than fish by the year 2050 if we remain on our current course.

Even if the plastic bags you have accumulated are living under the sink or returned to the grocery store, there are still consequences to this kind of consumption and demand. The reality is that not all plastic bags end up in a safe place, as our Project Clean Stream captains can confirm.

So, how about just giving up the bag?

Lent, a Christian religious observance that occurs throughout the six weeks before Easter, begins next Wednesday. To prepare for the sacred holiday, it is tradition to “give something up” for the season. Often the “something to give up” is a matter of reevaluating consumption. Fasts from chocolate and television are common.

This year, why not forgo using disposable plastic bags?

Several years ago, I gave up plastic bottles. I turned down sodas and found a fountain instead of taking packaged water. At the end of the 40 days, I decided to keep up the fast for a whole year.

I am so thankful I did; since then I have challenged myself to make my life less wasteful, reducing the amount of trash and recycling I generate. To me, Lent is about challenging myself to be mindful. It feels less like a sacrifice and more like an opportunity to gain perspective and live according to my values.

Trash Free Maryland, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, and faith leaders are calling on all Marylanders to fast from plastic bags during this season of Lent.

Together, we are encouraging people of all faiths to take forty days to consider our throwaway culture and how it effects our environment and health. Swapping out disposable plastic bags for reusable shopping totes is an easy way to make a real improvement to the cleanliness of our waterways.

I also hope you will join us on Tuesday in Annapolis as we rally support for the Community Cleanup and Greening Act, legislation to ban disposable plastic bags at retail stores.

They say it takes 30 days to break a bad habit. In 40 days, I bet you can bag it for good.

Take the pledge with the students from Roland Park and the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake: give up the bag (the plastic disposable one) and pick up the tote.

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