May 20, 2010

More Bags Please!

Since the advent of the 5 cent D.C. bag tax, Bread for the City has become a distribution center for reusable totes. Nickels add up for our struggling clients. They need reusable bags.

As monthly food client Bernard Smith explained to me, "I don't want to pay a nickel for a plastic bag that will just break and pollute the city." Another client added, "I can't afford these [reusable] bags without Bread for the City, and getting a bag from you helped me remember to bring them to the store."

What's more, reusable bags save us money. By replacing plastic and paper bags in our pantry, we immediately save 18 cents per reusable bag donated. A seemingly small impact; until you consider that we have collected 16,000 reusable bags, saving us a total $2,800. But Bread for the City's food pantry serves thousands every month; we still need more bags!

Our reusable bag collection started with likely donors such as Whole Foods, D.D.O.E, and Safeway. Recently I started casting a wider net in our never ending quest for bags -- and recently got a big boost from the Walter E Washington Convention Center. I had a hunch they might have a few leftover reusable bags from trade shows and conventions, so I contacted Theresa DuBois, the External Affairs Manager. Turns out they had 1,500.

Theresa was kind enough to expedite the donation, and we had the bags one short week after I contacted her. Notably, the Convention Center does not report donations, and they rarely receive recognition for their actions. Theresa, in short, was happy to help just for the sake of helping Bread for the City. She explained, “I am very familiar with Bread for the City’s exceptional work. We are excited to work with you on your tote bag campaign!”

We plan to continue working with The Convention Center as more bags become available.

You can help too by organizing a reusable bag drive at work, home, or in your neighborhood. A wide variety of organizations have signed up for bag drives; such as WilmerHale, Eco-Bags , and Sasha Bruce Youthwork.

Bag collections are a simple way to help Bread for the City, our clients, and the environment. Sign up today! Contact Jeffrey Wankel at for details.

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