"It seems like the whole country may soon be without bag monsters," he says. "Which is sad for me and my family."
Actually, the bag monster is activist Andy Keller, who uses the bag monster gag as a way to raise awareness of the impact of single-use plastic bags. In addition to his costume which is made of the approximate number of bags the average person uses in a year, Keller sets up a display showing how many the average person uses in their lifetime: 45,000. He's taking the act cross-country to raise awareness of pending legislation in California that may outright ban single-use plastic bags in hopes that other states will adopt similar laws.
Keller came to this way of life after driving some trash to the landfill near his home in Chico, CA. He saw exactly how many bags people were throwing away and made the pledge right then and there to kick his single-use bag habit.
"Plastic doesn't bio-degrade," Keller says. "It's around for over a thousand years. It breaks down into smaller pieces, but those are eaten by animals and then make their way into the food chain."
The problem Keller says, isn't plastic bags per se, it's single-use bags. He also hands out lightweight reusable shopping bags that people can keep with them at all times so they don't need a landfiller. He also says there are plenty of plastic bags, such as sandwich baggies and freezer bags, that most people already have available for the plastic shopping bags common secondary uses like picking up dog poo.
Michelle Donnelly, a 54-year-old administrator had just come to the The Grove so her grandkids could play in the fountain. And rather than being annoyed with the monster's presence, she was amused and supportive, feeling the bag monster is an effective way to raise awareness.
"I don't think people think about it. They just bag their groceries and go home," says Donnelly.
Harold and Janette Arnette, a retired couple passing through on their way home to Ohio didn't know what was going on when they sat down at The Grove for lunch, but it didn't take much to convince them that a plastic bag ban was a good idea.
"If you get out and travel, you'll just see bags blowing everywhere," says Harold. "They're getting completely out of control."
Don Colter, said he just wanted a quiet lunch. But when the bag monster approached him and asked for his Blimpie sandwich bag to help him grow up big and strong, he grinned.
"This brings awareness to wasting bags," he said. "It wasn't annoying at all."
"People think it doesn't matter what you do, so long as you recycle," says Keller. "But the reality is that less than 5% of plastics are recycled."
Back in character as the bag monster, he wanders around, telling somewhat confused-looking passersby that bag monsters have been around since the '70s, and that they want to be around a thousand more years. That way they'll have enough time to multiply and kick out the humans. If they can find a new place to live that is. And lacking any sort of regulation, effective recycling program or plastic bag tax, he says Boise is looking pretty good.