Single-use plastic bags are a threat to our environment.
We know that sea turtles swallow them because they look like their favorite snack, jellyfish.
We know that, even after plastic has broken into microparticles, shrimp, oysters, fish and crabs ingest them, so that when we eat seafood, we eat petroleum.
We know that the plastic bags show up along our beaches, streams, and roadways. This is a threat to our tourist economy —who wants to see that? So we expend time and money to clean up debris.
This summer our environmental group participated in an education table at the Bluffton’s Farmers Market. Several people who approached us were European tourists who have been living quite successfully with plastic bag bans for years. Many out-of-state visitors have been managing just fine with plastic bag restrictions. They wonder about our lack. I, myself, just returned from a vacation in Colorado, where most resort towns have a bag fee of 10 to 25 cents. They are OK too.
Beaufort County would be the first county in the state to enact a plastic bag ordinance and we have good reason — over half of the county is open water: sounds, marshes and estuaries, not to mention our unmatched coastline. We can do this! The plastic bag manufacturers will try to tell you that the plastic bag is more environmentally safe than the reusable cloth bag — but I have not yet heard a story about a sea turtle choking on a cloth bag.