Five hundred plastic bags, representing the average number of single-use bags the average American uses each year, decorated Hinds Plaza on Thursday night for the launch of Sustainable Princeton's BYOBag Campaign.
Princeton's campaign aims to educate the community about the dangers of plastic and paper bags and encourage consumers to bring their own reusable bags when shopping.
“This is a regional, national and international movement,” said Daniel Harris, a member of the BYOBag steering committee. “It’s time for us to catch up, and I hope the environmentally conscious will rise to the occasion.”
The launch party featured music by DJ Darius and a performance by the local Stone Soup Circus, whose members wore plastic bags as costumes as they did acrobatic tricks and pantomimed wastefulness.
Those who attended Thursday's launch party were encouraged to purchase reusable bags and sign BYOBag’s pledge to become more environmentally aware.
Princeton Day School senior Ariel Multak helped publicize the campaign for her senior project by meeting with local businesses.
“Princeton is going to become a role model for other communities," Multak said.
In Princeton, 29 local merchants have endorsed the BYOBag Campaign by hanging signs in their stores and educating employees about the dangers of plastic waste.
“We hope to have all businesses on board soon,” Harris said. “It will have to be a collaborative effort between merchants and residents.”
Both local and out-of-town attendees showed their support for the initiative on Thursday.
“It makes absolutely no sense to use a bag for five minutes and then throw it away when it’s engineered to last for hundreds of years,” said Matthew Spewak of Pennington. “I know without a doubt that Princeton will become a focal point for sustainability.”
After the festivities, the party moved inside the Princeton Public Library for a screening of the documentary “Bag It.”
Resident Martina Fuerst-Gauss said the film changed her life. She said after she watched it, she began carrying around her own cup and silverware to reduce plastic waste.
“‘Bag It’ has a wonderful message about being aware of our habits,” Fuerst-Gauss said. “We are living in a time where we should be frugal, and the most important thing to do now is spread this message.”
The following Princeton merchants have endorsed the BYOBag Campaign:
- Blue Ridge Mountain Sports
- Cox’s Market
- Green Design
- Hoagie Haven
- Holesome Teas
- Image Arts
- McCaffrey’s Market
- Mortgage Master, Inc.
- Princeton Farmer’s Market