PennEnvironment releases letter signed by more than 100 businesses and organizations supporting a plastic bag ban in Pittsburgh

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Signers urge local leaders to curb plastic pollution by banning single-use plastic bags


PITTSBURGH — PennEnvironment and 100 businesses, organizations and community leaders from every city council district in Pittsburgh have signed a letter released Wednesday urging local leaders to ban single-use plastic bags. 

The letter, addressed to local leaders, points out that single-use plastic bags are a profound threat to our environment and public health. Over time, plastic bags break down into microplastics, which can contain chemicals linked to cancer and hormone disruption. PennEnvironment’s 2021 report Microplastics in Pennsylvania: A Survey of Waterways found the presence of microplastics in each of the Three Rivers, 9 Mile Run, Sewickley Creek, Chartiers Creek, and the Youghiogheny River. 

“We shouldn’t allow plastic bags that we only use for a few minutes to pollute our rivers, streams, parks, neighborhoods and oceans for hundreds of years– especially when we have so many other options to serve the same purpose,” said PennEnvironment Deputy Director Ashleigh Deemer. “The substantial support reflected in this letter shows that Pittsburgh is ready for a change and wants to ban single-use plastic bags.”

In addition to littering our communities and polluting our waterways, plastic bags are made from fossil fuels, polluting our air and water at the time of extraction and during plastic manufacturing. Pollution from plastics production and incineration could amount to 56 gigatons of carbon between now and 2050 — or almost 50 times the annual emissions of all of the coal fired power plants in the United States. For the Pittsburgh region to be a leader in addressing climate change, we need to move beyond single-use bags.

“City Books never considered using plastic bags—a decision that was made as much for financial reasons as it was environmental ones,” said Arlan Hess, owner of City Books, one of the signers of the letter. “We use handled paper shopping bags, because, when we stamp them with the store logo & contact information, they become mobile advertisements for our business—especially when people re-purpose them. This ‘word of mouth’ marketing offsets what might be a slightly higher bag cost versus plastic (depending on supplier), but it eliminates a range of expensive and recurring marketing fees. Paper bags are part of City Books’ overall sustainable business model; reducing plastic waste and saving the planet are just an added bonus.” 

Plastic waste also places a burden on community leaders trying to keep their neighborhoods clean. 

“Pretty Up Beechview has been very successful at combating litter throughout our neighborhood,” said Marya Pittaway, who is the organization’s president. “However, we struggle to be able to affect meaningful change in the amount of plastic grocery bags that end up polluting our community. Plastic bags end up, quite literally, out of our reach, becoming entangled in trees or washed into storm drains and waterways.”

Passing a bag ban in Pittsburgh would likely prevent more than 108 million single-use plastic bags from entering our waste stream and our communities each year, based on statewide numbers.

“It’s encouraging to see such a broad spectrum of support across Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods for plastic waste reduction,” said Pittsburgh Councilperson Erika Strassburger. “I look forward to introducing legislation at City Council to ban single-use plastic bags this fall, and I welcome participation and feedback from businesses and community members to ensure we are successful in keeping our communities and our rivers free of plastic pollution.

When the bag ban is introduced, PennEnvironment will continue to build support for the bill among businesses and members of the public.

The following organizations signed the letter:

  1. PennEnvironment

  2. 61B Cafe

  3. 61C Cafe

  4. Ace Paints and Unfinished Furniture 

  5. Adda Coffee & Tea

  6. Allegheny Youth Development

  1. Amanda Lee Glassware

  2. Apricot Lane Boutique

  3. Arts & Crafts: Botanica & Occult Shop

  4. Atelier de Fer Coffee & Tea 

  5. Bantha Tea Bar

  6. Bear Dog Bicycles

  7. Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community (BCMAC)

  8. Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh (BCAP)

  9. Biddle’s Escape

  10. Black Cat Market

  11. Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation

  12. Botanical Vegan Cafe and Market

  13. Box Heart Gallery

  14. Breathe Project

  15. Building Performance Association

  16. Carnegie Mellon University Graduate Student Assembly

  17. Chatham University Green Team

  18. Chocolate Moose

  19. City Books

  20. Clean Water Action

  21. Climate Reality Project Pittsburgh

  22. CMU Sustainable Earth

  23. Costa RicArt

  24. Dancing Gnome Beer

  25. Dianne’s Dishware

  26. Eons Fashion Antique

  27. Fern Hollow Bicycles

  28. FracTracker Alliance

  29. Georgetown University

  30. Glassworks

  31. Greenfield Neighbors for Clean Air

  32. Highway Robbery Vintage

  33. Hollow Oaks Land Trust

  34. Homegrown Yoga

  35. Homewood Concerned Citizens Council

  36. Humane Action Pittsburgh

  37. Inhale Yoga

  38. James Floral Shoppe

  39. Jerry’s Records

  40. Kara Kakes Specialty Cakes

  41. Kraynick’s Bike Shop Inc

  42. Love, Pittsburgh

  43. McDonough’s Antiques

  44. Mello & Sons

  45. Mix Candle Co

  46. Moda Pittsburgh, Moda Lawrenceville 

  47. Mountain Watershed Association

  48. Mr. Sign

  49. Oryza Asian Grill

  50. Our Children Our Earth 

  51. PASUP. Pittsburghers Against Single Use Plastics

  52. Patrick’s Pub and Grille

  53. Penn Avenue Pottery

  54. Penn Hills Community Development Corporation

  55. Phoenix Boutique

  56. Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania

  57. Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse

  58. Pittsburgh Furniture Company

  59. Pittsburgh Gold & Diamond Buyers

  60. Point Breeze Organization

  61. Pressley Ridge

  62. Prestogeorge Coffee & Tea

  63. Pretty Up Beechview

  64. Pure Screen Printing

  65. Pursuits

  66. Redstart Roasters

  67. Rolling Pepperoni

  68. Sewickley Yarns

  69. Shadyside Nursery

  70. Shadyside Variety Store

  71. Shear Timing

  72. Shepherd Contracting LLC 

  73. Songbird Artistry

  74. Southside Jewelers & More!

  75. Sparkledragon’s Magical Emporium

  76. Spoiled Chics

  77. Spring Hill Civic League

  78. Student Government Board – University of Pittsburgh 

  79. Suburban Landscape & Floral Shoppe

  80. Sustainable Monroeville 

  81. Synthesis

  82. The Big Idea Bookstore and Cafe

  83. The Picket Fence

  84. The Plant Lady

  85. The Post-landfill Action Network

  86. The Sōl Collective

  87. The Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition

  88. The Women’s Adventure Club of Western PA

  89. Thomas Blvd Group

  90. Ujamaa Collective 

  91. University of Pittsburgh, Office of Sustainability

  92. Vestis

  93. White Rabbit Salon

100. Whitehall Green Thumbers Garden Club

101. Wildcard

102. Workshop PGH

103. Yeahyelhsa Illustrated Goods