New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, May 29, 2009


Union Square has been a site for social and political activism since the 1800's. In 1861, after the fall of Fort Sumter, there was a patriotic rally with an estimated 250,000 people, considered the largest public gathering in North America up to that time. Since that time, Union Square has continued its role as a locus for protests and gatherings.
On Sunday, May 17, the Veggie Pride Parade ended in the north plaza - see here. At the same time, Reverend Billy appeared at the NYC Plastic Bag Protest. There were various activities - crafts, street theater, advocacy and petitioning. A number of characters were present such as the Plastic Bag Monster seen in the photo and No Impact Man.
I applaud the efforts being made here as reduction is the biggest key to this problem. As I wrote in White Christmas, substitution of disposable materials or recycling is not an effective solution with the volume of bags being used, which is why complete bans are being enacted worldwide.
In 2002, Bangladesh became the first country to ban plastic bags. Taiwan prohibits not only plastic bags, but also disposable plastic cups, plates, and cutlery used by fast food vendors (threats of fines have resulted in a 70% reduction in the use of plastic bags, and a 25% cut in landfill waste.) A number of African countries have banned plastic bags such as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. London has banned giving out free bags, Ireland has levied a tax. Paris has banned them and plans to ban them nationwide by 2010. 
In 2007, San Francisco became the first US city to ban plastic bags. Other US cities have followed - Maui, Hawaii and Westport, Connecticut. New York City is considering its own initiative. The plastic bag problem has really hit critical mass and the list of countries, states and cities is constantly changing. I think the Plastic Bag Monster will be joining the ranks of the unemployed soon :)


Ilan said...

Great street photo.
I really hope he will become 'unemployed' when there won't be any more plastic bags.
Great photo and some interesting and important fact.
Thanks! I really enjoyed your blog.

Katie cat said...

Interesting and important cause making its point so well visually. I always reuse my plastic bags from the store as grocery bags rather than waste them. It would be great though if New York City follows Paris', San Fran's, CT's and all others' suite.

Hilda said...

Some companies and institutions here have banned plastic and polyurethane containers too, but I can't see a total ban happening anytime soon. Our government — both local and national — has a pretty weak political will :(

Eric said...

But I use these bags as free garbage bags for my toilet trash. If they ban them, I'm stuck paying for bags for my toilet trash. q:o(