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Erie BYO Coalition - Single-Use Plastic Pollution Prevention

Erie County has been a leader in protecting our Great Lakes for decades.  Erie County worked to reduce plastic pollution through its local ban on microbeads, which ultimately helped to create the impetus for a federal law. The Erie County Environmental Management Council (ECEMC), a volunteer group that advises Erie County government on environmental issues, has worked with Erie County on reducing single-use plastics including banning plastic shopping bags. See below for the March 1, 2020 NYS Plastic Ban Law.

In response to the ECEMC’s recommendation, the County Executive and the Department of Environment and Planning are working with several community partners, forming the BYO Coalition to raise awareness about this issue and promote possible solutions.

Plastic Pollution Prevention through Art and Science

art project

A K-12 "Earth Day" Art Project while at home.

Teachers of WNY,

We invite you to share with your students an “Earth April” creative Art and Science Project your students can accomplish while at home.

The project entails students creating art that urges the prevention of plastic pollution. The art can take several forms, such as video, plastic-art collages, drawing, music and more. The project has a well-developed S.T.E.A.M. curriculum that students can explore on their own, or hopefully with your guidance.

The art will be displayed on our engaging website which will continue to display new art throughout the semester.  Students are asked to write and submit a short narrative to accompany the art.

Please explore the website to get an understanding of all that we have to offer you and your students:


This is the third year of the “I Am the Solution to Plastic Pollution”. The previous two years we had over 200 classrooms participate, with the art being displayed at the Buffalo Museum of Science. Erie County Department of Environment and Planning worked with the Buffalo Museum, of Science, Buffalo Zoo, Erie1BOCES, and WNY STEM, to develop the project.

This year, we are making the project Virtual: a Student Gallery and learning center combined.

Please join the project by forwarding the attached PDF to your students, and if possible, proving guidance to them.  It is great project in time for Earth Day.

It would also be helpful if you would subscribe to our mailing list so we can update you on the program; “To subscribe” is found on our website.

Thank you for your continued service to our community,

Andrew Goldstein

We arelooking forward to seeing your artwork and posting it online.Thank you for your participation.

Andrew Goldstein

Compost and Recycling Coordinator

Erie County Department of Environment and Planning

Why Single Use Bags are a Problem


  • Both plastic and paper bags require vast amounts of our natural resources to manufacture and to transport.  
  • Fish and wildlife consume plastic pieces, mistaking them for food, or become ensnared in plastic debris.
  • Recent studies have found high levels of plastics in the Great Lakes, and thousands of plastic bags are being found on Great Lakes beaches.
  • Litter is not only costly to clean up but has been shown to reduce property values and influence tourism.
  • Flooding can be caused when litter, such as single use bags, clog storm drains.

The simplest solution to reduce single-use bag pollution is to:


  • Remember to bring your own reusable bag(s) to the store.
  • And return your bags back to the store for recycling – in general, single-use plastic bags are not accepted in curbside recycling.  
  • Get involved in the conversation, Tweet your photo or comment about single-bag pollution at #ERIEBYOBag
  • Please add your name to our mailing/volunteer list


The 2020 NYS Plastic Ban law

Starting March 1, 2020, all plastic carryout bags (other than an exempt bag) are banned from distribution by anyone required to collect New York State sales tax.  There are excemptions as to the types of stores and bags that are not covered under this law, so if you wish to learn more, we recomend you visit the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for deatails: NYSDEC BYOBag

If you have questions please email:

Page 1. Download instructions at 2. Download instructions at


Make your Own Bag

You can make your own bag from an old t-shirt. This is a great project for scout troops, church groups, or school clubs. Check out this video to make a reusable shopping bag from an old t-shirt: or download an instructional PDF courtesy of the Matt Urban Hope Center!

We will be bringing our "Make Your Own Bag" table to events throughout Erie County. If you want to bring the display to your event, contact us at

The BYO Coalition is helping to educate the public on the importance of reducing waste.


Spread the Word

To stay informed and participate in our ongoing public discussion that focuses on finding a solution to plastic pollution, be sure to follow @ErieBYObag ( on Twitter.

Use the hashtag #ErieBYObag to:

  • Respond to tweets
  • Share your photos of bag litter
  • Share photos of your reusable bags in action
  • Take a picture with Terra and share it!
  • Make suggestions
  • Continue the dialogue
  • View the pictures!

Student Projects

Four videos were created by the 2017-2018 Erie 1 BOCES class at the Buffalo Zoo. Click the links below to view the 1 minute videos:

What are other communities doing to address this issue?

Laws intended to reduce single-use bags are no longer cutting edge; there are more than 150 such laws in the United States. New York City recently passed an anti-litter legislation and a state-wide law was passed in California. Moreover, there are many laws addressing this porblem throughout the world.

It is important to note that the communities with fees and/or bans have resulted in significant decreases in bag pollution (60 - 90%).


Celebrating conservation and sustainability successes, including the NY Plastic Bag Ban, that produce change and inspire hope.