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

MUSC: Urban Farm

Earlier this year in an attempt to prevent the Zika virus from having a strong foothold in South Carolina, a county in South Carolina sprayed pesticide. This resulted in the massacre of millions of honeybees. One of the bee farms affected by this massacre was a farm in Summerville, South Carolina. In this farm, a total of 46 hives were destroyed, and 2.5 million bees were murdered. Last month my sorority sisters and I volunteered at MUSC: Urban Farms. While on the farm, I got the opportunity to learn about the huge impact bee have not only on our agriculture, but our society as well. Honeybees are considered nature’s best pollinators. They are responsible for pollinating some of South Carolina’s best crops such as, almonds, blueberries, apples, asparagus, and broccoli. With recent mass decline of honeybees, it is projected that South Carolina will experience a drop in fresh agriculture production in those products. Also while volunteering at the Urban Farm, I learned why bee preservation is so important for our environment. Honeybees are responsible for the estimated cross-pollination of 30% of the world’s food crops and 90% of wild plant growth. While at MUSC Urban Farms they also spoke to us about the recent disappearance of honeybees before the pesticide spraying. They mention that in 2006 the bee population started to decline due to different disturbances in their environment. Those disturbance include, honeybees losing their food sources due to the cultivation of land, honeybees not being able to fight diseases and poisons well due to their genes, and the impact of global warming causing flowers to bloom earlier or later in the season, which doesn’t coincide with the bees coming out of hibernation. Volunteering at MUSC Urban Farm gave me the opportunity to do my part to help the honey bee community. While volunteering I helped build honey bee pollinators out of bamboo and twine for the local honey bees on the farm since the bee population is now declining. Thanks to the donation of a beehive from The Bee Cause Project, the Urban Farm at MUSC is able to continue their mission of building a healthier community and inspiring people in the community to eat local, nutritious and delicious foods. With the new hives, MUSC hope to change people’s perspective of bees as helpful creature which are needed to help pollinate most fruits and vegetables instead of the negative perception bees received as being terrorizer that can sting you. MUSC Urban Farm hopes that with forming this new perception of honeybees, people will think twice before choosing to spray pesticides. After volunteering with MUSC Urban Farm not only has my perception for honeybees change, but I also have the desire to support more locally grown fruits and vegetables vendors.Overall I had a great time volunteering at MUSC: Urban Farm, and I hope to continue to volunteer at MUSC Urban Farm and learn more about what I can do to help the declining bee population and influence more people to eat locally grown organic vegetables and produce.