Bag It Event

On Wednesday evening I attended “Bag It” presented by the Alliance for Planet Earth. The presentation was about plastic bags and included a panel of speakers as well as a screening of a documentary. The panel included Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin, Lia Colabello of 5 Gyres, and Katie Zimmerman of Coastal Conservation League. It was also a zero waste event, meaning all of the food that was served with compostable plates and silverware. Overall, I really enjoyed this event and I feel like I learned a lot from it.

First, the panel spoke about plastic bags and the threat they pose to both our local environment and the planet as a whole. Charleston is particularly sensitive to plastic bags because we live in a coastal environment. When plastic bags get discarded they often end up in the ocean, where they pose a serious threat to wildlife, especially turtles. Folly Beach in particular is home to many loggerhead turtles, so they’re especially concerned with plastic use. I also learned that although plastic doesn’t degrade, it does get broken into smaller and smaller pieces which never disappear and are incredibly hard to clean up, and when in the ocean they attract other chemicals creating a threat for both wildlife and human health. When we eat fish, we may also be ingesting chemicals that the fish had in its system as a result of pollution. A lot of health complications from this bio magnification are still unknown.

A second main point discussed by the panel was policy. Each person on the panel believed that policy was the best way to combat the consequences of plastic pollution. In this past election cycle Folly Beach was the first community in the greater Charleston areas to ban not only plastic bags, but also all Styrofoam containers. This is a huge step forward in protecting our coastline and oceans. Now that Folly Beach has passed this legislation, it will pave the way for places like Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island to take similar steps. However, these policies generally come with a fair amount of opposition, especially from the plastic industry. Some places in the US have passed “preemptive legislation” which essentially makes it impossible to ban plastic bags like Folly Beach recently did. This type of legislation was attempted in Charleston, but fortunately did not pass. I thought the discussion on policy was really informative, and inspiring that places like Charleston are beginning to make real change.

Finally, we watched “Bag it: is your life too plastic”, a documentary about the effects of plastic pollution worldwide. The film followed Jeb Berrier, an average American who attempts to learn more about our dependence on plastics and how it is harming the environment.  Although the documentary was very interesting and informative, I feel the panel was my favorite part of the event. I learned about how plastic impacts me and where I live and how policy can help change that. It was great to hear from real local officials on what we could do to help protect our environment.

 

By Lea Wright

5 thoughts on “Bag It Event

  1. I think its really awesome that Folly Beach had banned plastic and styrofoam. As a local that has been going to folly for years, it has been awesome to see our community be so supporting in “going free”. I know that Berts market on folly has been one of these local businesses that have been super supportive from the start. I hope to see more business around Charleston follow in these same footsteps. I think banning plastic and styrofoam all together will encourage people to get accustomed to bringing their own bags when they go shopping. This will also get people to think about all the unnecessary materials, such as plastic bags and packing materials, and how they impact our environment.I’m more people are starting to become aware and are getting involved! I hope this will cause a cultural shift and encourage people to become less wasteful and more mindful.

  2. I was bummed that I couldn’t make the event but I’m glad your wrote about it – very informative! Great news that Folly beach banned plastic and styrofoam. Hopefully Charleston can set an example for many beach cities around our country. I’ll have to check out that documentary!

  3. I think its great that Folly Beach decided to finally ban the use of plastic bags and styrofoam cups. I also did not know that when we consume fishes or other sea animals that we may also be consuming chemicals that the fish had in their system. People really don’t think about the severe consequences littering such as plastic bags has on ocean life and that what we put out in the ocean can come right back to us and be put into our bodies. I feel that more people need to be more conscientious of how they dispose of their trash and put into comparison that what the fish eat is what we eat also.

  4. It was not until this past summer when I read the book No Impact Man (ironically a book I bought at the Folly Farmer’s market) that I realized how much plastic I use. It is everywhere! Trying to purchase food without plastic involved is near impossible!!! We package everything in plastic and then carry it in plastic bags. Even with recycling this is too much. I am glad that communities are taking measures to decrease the amount of plastic bags and styrofoam. In a case like this I think policy is only the feasible way to rid communities of all plastic. This sounds like it was a fantastic event to go to and I am bummed I missed it!

  5. Thanks for this informative post, Lea! It led me to do some more research on preemptive legislation, and I discovered that it was first used by the tobacco industry in the 90s to prevent localities from protecting their citizens from second-hand smoke, and that it is currently trying to be used to prevent other campaigns from getting what they want passed, such as raising the minimum wage.

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