News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 09/22/2009
Subject :

City Kicks Off BYOBag Campaign
Aims to Increase Reusable Bag Use Again
Contact : Glenn Roberts, Director, Public Works Department    650-329-2325
Palo Alto, CA - The City is working its way to Zero Waste one step at a time. Today the City, in partnership with local stores, launched a new Bring Your Own Bag campaign at Piazza's Fine Foods focused on helping shoppers to remember their reusable shopping bags whenever they shop. The kickoff event included local Palo Alto Girl Scout Troop #60692 stenciling reminder messages in Piazza’s parking lot and shoppers video blogging how they remember to bring their bags shopping. The campaign runs through April 2010. 

The percentage of reusable bag use doubled from 9 to 18 percent at Palo Alto grocery stores and pharmacies between 2008 and 2009, and the Zero Waste Program aims to increase reusable bag usage to 30 percent by February 2010. While Palo Alto shoppers are on board with using reusable bags, research indicates shoppers need help forming the habit of remembering them and this campaign is focused on just that.

The reminder campaign features tools and tips shoppers can use to remember their bags. Tools for shoppers include a handy Reminder Kit complete with a decal for their car, sticky notes and signs, and a shopping list magnet for their refrigerator. Stores are also helping prompt shoppers by issuing bag credits for reusable bag use, installing shopping cart corral store signs, hanging banners and helping with distribution of the reminder kits for shoppers. The campaign slogan is "Make it a Habit and Grab It" and its tone is lighthearted and humorous, featuring a lonely shopping bag with messages of longing to be taken along to go shopping. Tips to help shoppers remember their bags are posted at  Video blogs of shoppers providing testimonials of how they remember their bags will be on the site in early October.  

Environmental concerns have grown over the use of disposable paper and plastic bags. Local and global impacts include adverse effects on water quality, contribution to global warming, resource and energy consumption, harm to marine ecosystems, and the need for increased solid waste management, including the costs to manage or mitigate all the aforementioned impacts. There is tremendous embodied energy in the manufacture and transport of products and packaging so choosing reusable and durable carryout bags over disposable is the best way for shoppers to significantly reduce or eliminate the impacts and support the Palo Alto community’s climate protection, litter abatement and Zero Waste goals.

“We are very happy that more shoppers are using reusable bags, helping Palo Alto with its Zero Waste to landfills goal. Reducing the use of disposables, such as paper and plastic shopping bags, is a top ten priority of Palo Alto’s Zero Waste Operational Plan, as well as, a priority for reducing litter in our local creeks and the Bay.” said Glenn Roberts, Public Works Director. “Palo Alto has been working with other cities in Santa Clara County on this issue. This one step of remembering your reusable bags can result in a reduction of thousands of bags per shopper and lessen the impacts across our County.”

The Girl Scout Troop helping with today’s launch became involved with encouraging reusable bag use when they began working on their Bronze Award and decided on a project to help the community. According to Kirsten Struve and Janis Hom, Troop leaders, “Our goal with the project was to let the girls experience the process of speaking up for something they believe in. We want the girls to learn that their voices matter and that they will be heard, regardless of age.”

"We wanted to do this because plastic bags have such a big carbon footprint because of the way they're made and because plastic bags hurt animals when people litter, said the Troop, “We care about the animals and we care about our planet.” The Troop provides the following reminder tip for shoppers, “Always keep a small bag in your handbag or car!”

Piazza’s Fine Foods, host store for the launch, encourages shoppers to remember their bags and hung a large banner at the front of their store as a reminder last year.

“Piazza’s is excited to participate in this campaign to help and encourage shoppers to remember their bags. We offer a five cent bag credit each time they do. Last year we discontinued distributing plastic shopping bags and many Piazza’s shoppers made the switch to reusable bags right away, which has greatly reduced our need to purchase paper ones. In fact, our reusable bags are so popular we have a difficult time keeping them in stock,” said John Piazza, Jr., owner.

The City also chose to launch their campaign to coincide with a larger Bay Area wide effort in collaboration with the Bay Area Recycling Outreach Coalition (BayROC) that will feature radio, along with cable and broadcast television advertisements from September to early October around the Bay Area. BayROC is a partnership of over 100 cities in the nine Bay Area Counties that pool their resources to create shared outreach, education messages and promotional campaigns. This year BayROC worked with San Francisco State University students to create the radio and television messages. City of Palo Alto Zero Waste staff was part of the committee to develop the BayROC campaign. The BayROC campaign site is

“By coordinating Palo Alto’s reusable bag campaign with other Bay Area governments, we hope to increase awareness of this important issue and make bringing reusable bags part of our local culture. I encourage and challenge all Palo Altans, if they haven’t already, to create the reusable bag habit whenever and wherever they shop. Every effort on our part counts and Palo Alto stores have stepped up to help remind shoppers with this campaign,” said Council Member Yoriko Kishimoto.

All Palo Alto businesses are invited to participate in the BYOBag campaign to help shoppers use reusable bags whenever, wherever they shop. Businesses can contact the City of Palo Alto Zero Waste Program for more information by calling (650) 496-5910 or visiting