Skip to content (press enter)

Reusable Bag Accessibility Program

Our chapter developed a reusable bag accessibility program to help close the equity gap for recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and other financially challenged Mainers as the statewide bag ban law we helped pass in 2019 starts to be enforced July 1, 2021.

The bag ban is an important tool to attain environmental justice in the U.S., to help all Mainers have access to an environment free from plastic pollution, and to decrease the amount of plastic used for single-use items as we help transition the consumer paradigm away from single-use stuff and toward reuse/refill (what’s this about environmental justice?! Learn more here)!

Charging fees for single-use bags is an essential component to good bag law, and we fought hard to ensure this remained intact in the bill that became law here in Maine. The goal of the bag fees is to inspire people to bring their own bags to avoid the fee. For financially challenged people, however, this can create an inequity of access that we are hoping to help close the gap on here in Maine.

SNAP recipients cannot purchase non-food items with their benefits. Additionally, low-income households tend to spend a larger proportion of their income on basic needs compared to higher-income households, which means that a bag fee that raises the overall cost of groceries has a bigger impact on low-income families. These possible inequities of access to non-plastic reusable bags created the need for this program, and we’re grateful that you’re here reading about it!

For these reasons we donated close to 600 bags over the summer of 2021 to grocery stores and food pantries so that all Mainers would have a high quality reusable bag without facing any extra costs. We also sold bags to help support the program and to ensure that there was no stigma attached to these items.

UPDATE 12/2021: Due to the popularity of the program we have a limited time restock available! We’re partnering with refill stores We Fill Good in Kittery and Go Go Refill in South Portland who will be selling the bags – each purchase allows us to donate a bag to a food pantry or grocery store in Maine.

Do you have your own clean reusable bags that you’d like to donate? Many of our program recipients welcome your ongoing donations! Having a clean high quality bag allows recipients to shop with dignity and avoid constant additional fees or the price of a new bag. Scroll below to see participating pantries and grocery stores – those with mailing/drop-off address are accepting your donations! Thank you for considering!

Ways to Participate

  • Head over to Go Go Refill or We Fill Good and get yourself a bag! While you’re there, check out their amazing inventory of plastic- and single-use alternatives.
  • If you are a Maine business interested in purchasing a special bulk order of our recycled cotton bags to distribute for free to your customers who qualify for SNAP or are otherwise financially challenged, please email with your budget, timeframe, and quantity of bags desired!
  • If you would like to donate money to help us purchase more reusable bags for this program, please process your donation at this link, click the box for “To Maine Chapter,” and be sure to note in the memo that your gift is earmarked for the Surfrider Foundation Maine Chapter’s Reusable Bag Accessibility program.
  • To volunteer with us and help promote this program or other efforts geared toward protecting and enjoying Maine’s ocean, waves, and beaches, give our volunteer coordinator a shout ( or check out our volunteer page to learn about our current opportunities!
  • If YOU have a stockpile of your own clean reusable bags in excess of what you actually need, please consider donating them to your local pantry or food shelf.