Bozeman Bring Your Own Bags

Abby Hernandez

Montana is affectionately known as the “Last Best Place,” and Valley of the Flowers Project is working to keep it that way. I’m sure most of you know the concept of BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer), but Valley of the Flowers Project is asking folks to Bring Your Own Bags to help reduce microplastics in Gallatin Valley. Here’s the skinny on the programs and how you can help make a difference.

Who: Valley of the Flowers Project is a 501c3 non-profit based here in Bozeman. The name Valley of the Flowers was inspired by the Native American way of living in harmony with the land, respecting the land and working to keep it beautiful. The ultimate goal of Valley of the Flowers Project is to make Bozeman a zero waste city and help Bozemanites with all aspects of sustainability.  As with any goal, you’ve got to start somewhere. Valley of the Flowers Project is starting by bringing these two programs to the Gallatin Valley -  BYOB (Bring Your Own Bags for Change) and Boomerang Bags.

What: The Bring Your Own Bags for Change program is as simple as it sounds. At participating locations (full list at, when you checkout with your reusable bag you will receive a refund of 5 cents per reusable bag. You can keep the 5 cents or contribute your 5 cents to a local community group working for a sustainable future. To date, $5,000 in $.05 reusable bag donations have been made to local causes including the Montana Outdoor Science School, Bogert Park Recycling, Solar 4 Everyone and The Warming Center just to name a few. This also means that at least 100,000 fewer plastic bags were used!

Boomerang Bags, the 2nd initiative that Valley of the Flowers Project is working to bring to Bozeman, was actually started in Austraila. The founders of Boomerang Bags were appalled by how much plastic was overflowing landfills, and floating in our oceans. They learned that approximately one million plastic bags were being used every minute, and that there was also over 10 million tons of fabric waste created each year. So they decided to combine the two problems and get fabric scraps to make into reusable shopping bags. Boomerang Bags is now in over 800 communities worldwide, including Bozeman!

When:  There’s no time like the present to work on keeping Bozeman beautiful. Next time you go shopping, bring your reusable bag and ask your favorite stores about BYOB or Boomerang Bags.

Where:  To participate in BYOB, you can bring your reusable bags to participating businesses around Bozeman including Heebs, Joe’s Parkway, Great Rocky Mountain Toy Co and new for 2020 – Rosauers! Rosauers is participating in a 3-month trial of the BYOB program starting February 2020 - so if you shop at Rosauers, ask about the program to make it one that sticks!  Valley of the Flowers Project is working to bring BYOB to other stores around town, so wherever you shop, ask if they participate in Bring Your Own Bags for Change to help spread the word.

To participate in Boomerang Bags, you can donate fabric scraps and/or reusable bags to the corner stand on 9th and Curtiss. Or next time you are at Heebs, consider putting a reusable bag (or two) on their Boomerang Bags stand for someone else to use when they forget their bags.

Why: Plastic pollution is a growing problem everywhere and the Gallatin Valley is no exception. In 2015, Adventure Scientists started the Gallatin Microplastics Initiative to study the types and amounts of microplastics in the Gallatin River Watershed. There were 72 sample sites in the study area ranging from the headwaters in Yellowstone National Park to the Three Forks area where the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin Rivers merge.  These 72 sites were sampled 4x/year (once in each season) for two consecutive years. The results showed that “fifty- seven percent of Gallatin samples contained microplastic pollution, with an average of 1.2 pieces per liter”.

Let’s help Valley of the Flowers Project keep Gallatin Valley beautiful for generations to come. For more info including a full list of participating businesses and grant recipients, visit  

This was made by

Abby Hernandez

Abby is a mom of two young boys and a small business owner. She grew up in Paradise Valley, but currently calls Bozeman home. You can follow the adventures of her and her family on Instagram @adventurepeaksupply

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