'One plastic bag less' campaign launched

'Over two billion bags are distributed each year, and people use them for about 20 minutes.'

The Council for a Beautiful Israel will set up information booths at the Israel Malls chain across the country this week ahead of Pessah to try and convince people to make do with fewer plastic bags. The council, in conjunction with Bank Hapoalim and the Shout Web site, aims to rid the country of disposable plastic bags within three years. The council kicked off its political campaign a few weeks ago by collaborating with MKs Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) and Avshalom Vilan (Meretz) on a bill to outlaw plastic bags in supermarkets and grocery stores within three years. According to the council, over two billion bags are distributed each year, and people use them for about 20 minutes. The bags represent a potential ground and water pollution threat, as well as a suffocation hazard for young children and animals, the council said. They have suggested replacing plastic bags with cloth ones or biodegradable ones made out of potato and corn starch. Tennis star Shahar Pe'er has also donated her time to the campaign, starring in a TV ad that has started running on Channel 10 recently. "We are on the eve of Pessah - a time that is characterized by intensive shopping sprees at supermarkets, and therefore massive use of plastic bags, which pollute the environment. We see the fight to reduce the use of plastic bags as one of the most important environmental battles in Israel, and we hope to succeed in jump-starting the conceptual change among the Israeli public," council head Eshel Segel said in a statement. "The Council for a Beautiful Israel believes we must act immediately, even before the completion of the legislative process that will lead to the reduction of excessive use of plastic bags, and has started its first informational campaign. The campaign explains to the public the harm the bags cause and calls on every consumer to act of his own volition for the good of the environment, and to voluntarily make do with fewer bags," Segel said.