Bag It

Annie Neyle Steadman
I went the event called “Bag It” where there were three speakers that discussed the plastic bag issue and how plastic affects our environment. The first speaker was Lia Colabello who is the Director of Global Partnership and Community Engagement at the 5 Gyres Institute. Lia talked about the problems of plastic bags and what they are doing to our environment, as well as what they are doing to marine mammals. She showed us pictures of sea turtles and birds that had suffered injuries from eating plastic. The plastic had broken down into tiny pieces that the marine mammals ingested. The plastic got stuck in their digestive systems causing health issues. The sea turtle was found lethargic and was rescued by the sea turtle Hospital from the South Carolina Aquarium. After the doctors removed all the plastic that was stuck in the turtle’s digestive tract, he was restored back to health, he was released back into the ocean. The bird had died due to the same issue and when its body decomposed you could see all the plastic that the bird had ingested. The most surprising picture was of a large mass of plastic bags that a camel had swallowed and had gotten lodged in its digestive system. The camel ultimately died from starvation from ingesting plastic instead of food. The next surprising fact that Lia shared was that on a global basis, we produce a garbage truck full of plastic per minute! The next speaker was Katie Zimmerman who is the Program Director of Air, Water, and Public Health at the Coastal Conservation League. Katie talked about the places that have put in “bag bans” or some times of ordinance towards plastic usage. She also showed us pictures from our local lakes and rivers that have been impacted from all the plastic that eventually ends up in our lakes, rivers, and oceans. She said that if we can reduce the amount of plastic we use, we can make our state beautiful again. Trash on the sides of the roads are another big issue and she talked about this and about how we need to be advocates for picking up trash and teaching people what plastic is doing to our environment. The last speaker was the mayor of Folly Beach named, Tim Goodwin. He spoke about the political aspect of passing laws to get “bag bans” and how Folly Beach has turned into a plastic free city starting in January 2017. That means that no person in the city of Folly Beach is allowed to use plastic at the time of purchase. This means that all stores, restaurants, and business are not allowed to use plastic containers, cups, or bags. This is an amazing move in the right direction for the rest of the cities in South Carolina to follow because plastic is so detrimental to our environment and to our health. Plastic contains a lot of toxins that can hurt us and we need to help support this growing “bag ban” that is started to grow in popularity. We can do these this by not using plastic and picking up plastic that you see around our city.