Santa Barbara environmental groups — including Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, the Santa Barbara Surfrider Foundation, Art From Scrap, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, Choose to Reuse and the “Where’s Your Bag?” campaign — are collaborating to promote the use of reusable bags in the community in honor of “A Day Without a Bag.”

In its fourth year, “A Day Without a Bag” is a statewide campaign to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of disposable bags and educate shoppers to adopt a more sustainable habit — using reusable bags every time they shop.

With the help of local businesses, city government entities, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations are working together to spread the word about the environmental effects of single-use bags.

On Thursday, Dec. 16, free reusable bags will be distributed to shoppers at two Santa Barbara supermarkets — Scolari’s at 222 N. Milpas St. and Tri-County Produce at 335 S. Milpas St. — and two locations on State Street at the Canon Perdido and Ortega cross streets near the Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center.

Community members are encouraged to stop by one of the sites to get a free reusable bag and learn about the environmental impacts of disposable bags, or just participate by saying no to paper and plastic and using only reusable bags all day — and every day!

Californians use more than 19 billion plastic grocery bags every year — about 550 bags per person — sending nearly 150,000 tons of waste to landfills and to beaches, creeks and roadsides as litter. Plastic bags litter Santa Barbara’s creeks and beaches and cost taxpayer money to cleanup.

Cities and counties throughout California and the nation are taking action to prevent plastic bag pollution by banning disposable plastic shopping bags. The City of Santa Barbara will be considering an ordinance to address disposable bag use in early 2011.

Call Santa Barbara Channelkeeper at 805.563.3377 x0 for more information.

— Penny Owens represents Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.