UU-based Cape Environmental Action group gets drastic with plastic

Stop & Shop donates 1,500 reusable shopping bags to the cause

Most of us use them from time to time. We use them to schlep groceries and pretty much everything else we purchase home with us.  Some of us have an entire drawer filled with them and some of us even make an effort to reuse them. They are the plastic handle bags available at most every store.

They may be convenient, but few deny the environment would be better without them.  A new grassroots group, Cape Environmental Action (CEA), made up of members of Unitarian Universalist churches in Barnstable, Brewster and Falmouth "started meeting early this year, and quickly decided we wanted to try and reduce the use of single-use plastic bags," said founding member Sheila Place of the Unitarian Church of Barnstable ( (who started the project with Karen O'Connor of First Parish Brewster). The group's "Get Drastic, Reduce Plastic" project targets the fossil-fuel based bags. 

According to CEA, plastic bags make up 10% of the debris that litters the coastline. With an average "lifespan" of 700-1,000, the bags aren't going anywhere without the effort of groups like CEA.

In early March, the group hosted a screening of the documentary "Bag It" at Cape Cinema in Dennis. Place said following the successful screening, the group approached management at Stop & Shop and asked if they would be willing to distribute free reusable bags in their Cape stores. "We have the full cooperation and encouragement of the Stop & Shop stores," said Place.

The grocery chain's corporate headquarters provided Cape Environmental Action with 1,500 reusable bags to be distributed at Cape Cod locations.

On March 15, CEA held their first two giveaways at Stop & Shop stores in Marstons Mills and Orleans. On that first day, the group gave away 500 reusable bags. One reusable bag, according to CEA, eliminates 1,000 single-use plastic bags.

The remaining 1,000 reusable bags will be divvied up and distributed to customers (and hopefully future Cape Environmental Action members) at the April 26 event.

On Saturday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., CEA volunteers will be at Stop & Shop stores in Harwich (Route 39 & 137), Hyannis (425 Attucks Lane), Sandwich (65 Route 6A) and Falmouth (20 Teaticket Highway) giving out the free reusable bags donated by the chain. 

In addition to free bags, the group will have information about reducing our reliance on the fossil fuel-based bags. Anyone interested in joining Cape Environmental Action is welcome to sign up at any of the four stores.

Anyone interested in signing up or volunteering before the April 26 event can email Sheila Place at [email protected].

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