PFQAC conducted its first Shopper Bag Survey this past fall as part of a larger statewide effort organized by the Zero Waste chapter of the MD Sierra Club. Enumerators, the official name for our volunteers who collected the bag data, sat for one hour on two occasions at each of the four QAC grocery store chains: Safeway, Acme, and two Food Lions.
Positioning two people per store, one person assigned to each exit with the job of ticking the bag usage of each shopper exiting the store, was a real eye-opener! Categories included: 1) reusable bags only 2) a combination of reusable and plastic or paper 3) plastic single-use bags only 4) paper only, and 5) No Bag-essentially the shopper carried out their purchase. Click here to see QAC results.
Although we had previously conducted three similar bag surveys at the Safeway in Chester, PFQAC decided it was time to join the more official statewide project. Started in 2012, in the latest study conducted in 2019, volunteers across the state observed 32,512 shoppers at a total of 209 stores. While the data results varied, in Prince George's County alone, almost nine out of every 10 shoppers used disposable plastic bags.
We are proud to report that PFQAC is the first environmental organization on the Eastern Shore to participate in this statewide survey. While plastic bag bans are now in effect and operating with successful results in various parts of the state, due to the COVID pandemic the 2020 Maryland legislature sessions had to close down early just before its final vote on a more uniform statewide ban. With continued pandemic restrictions, plastic bags and a statewide bag ban has become an even more controversial topic. Despite setbacks, the movement is clearly continuing to grow, and if all goes well the 2021 legislative session starting January 13 will move the final vote from last years session forward! For more information on how to start a plastic bag ban in your area visit https://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/surfrider-foundation-announces-plastic-bag-law-activist-toolkit