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Isle Of Palms Considers Plastic Bag Ban

By Kathryn Casey, Island Eye News Staff Reporter

A sea turtle with a plastic bag stuck in its esophagus. Plastic bags are often mistaken for jellyfish by the creatures, and once inside can do terrible damage to the intestines.

A sea turtle with a plastic bag stuck in its esophagus. Plastic bags are often mistaken for jellyfish by the creatures, and once inside can do terrible damage to the intestines.

Last week, the City of Isle of Palms was presented with a unique opportunity for a South Carolina municipality. Kathy Kent spoke for a group of concerned citizens to propose to City Council that the Isle of Palms become the first city in the state to ban single use plastic bags. Many other cities across the nation and the world have adopted similar ordinances, banning the use of one time use plastic bags, such as the kind used at the grocery store, retail checkouts and some to-go options at local restaurants.

According to Kent, cities along the Outer Banks and even the entire country of China have adopted laws prohibiting the use of plastic bags.

About 500 billion plastic bags are used yearly across the globe. Kent and other supporters of the Ban the Bag IOP Movement believe that cutting down on the use of plastic bags can help save the environment from further pollution.

These bags, when littered into the ocean, look like jellyfish to sea turtles and they eat them,” Rini Kosmo, a member of the group, said in an email to Island Eye. “This is not a war against all plastic, as all of us use plenty of it in our lives every day. It does target the small translucent bags that stores often use because those bags, when littered into the water, often look like the jellyfish upon which many sea turtles, and fish, feed.”

To date, the Ban the Bag Movement has faced some opposition, with residents taking to social media to tell their councilmembers that they feel a ban is unfair. Kent believes that the opposition shown is actually in response to misunderstandings about the ordinance she has proposed the city consider. Some residents believe that they would be fined for using plastic bags under this ordinance, which is not so. This ordinance would only ban point-of-sale, one-time use plastic bags.

This means that stores like Harris Teeter and Subway would use paper bags instead of the plastic bags. Shoppers would still have access to the plastic bags in the grocery store that are used to hold fresh produce and meats. Island residents would also still be able to use the plastic doggy-waste bags that are provided on the Front Beach. “This is about cutting down on the total amount of bags distributed, not punishing those who have bags,” Kent says.

Kathy Kent, Jackie Kilroe, Christy Fenchuk Humphries and Henry Hagerty, the ladies behind the Ban the Bag movement.

Kathy Kent, Jackie Kilroe, Christy Fenchuk Humphries and Rini Kosmo, the ladies behind the Ban the Bag movement.

When City Council first questioned the Ban the Bag group at the council meeting on April 28, they asked whether the businesses would be on board with this. The response was that almost all of those approached had been receptive to the idea. Those who have expressed support include, Bushido, The Dinghy, Coda Del Pesce, Banana Cabana, Sea Biscuit, ThinkBank Inc., Long Island Cafe, Salon Latitude, Nature Adventures, Janis Agency, Isle of Palms Family Dentistry, Dickinson Architects and Island Ice.

Island Ice Frozen Yogurt fully supports the discontinuation of plastic bag use on Isle of Palms,” the yoghurt shop said on social media last week. “Paper, cloth, and bagless are all viable options. Might be temporarily inconvenient to change over but so worth it for long term well being.”

Nature Adventures has joined in support saying on their Facebook page, “Nature Adventures Kayak, Canoe and Paddleboard Outfitters is in total support of banning the bags! We’ve seen first hand, several injured and dead turtles and birds from them. Please support this community effort.” Harris Teeter, the island’s only grocery store, has not yet made a formal response.

However they donated 3,000 reusable bags to the group and the Harris Teeter store in the Outer Banks has complied with a plastic bag ban there.

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Council voted unanimously to have the city attorney draft an ordinance to be presented to council for discussion at its next meeting, May 26 at 6 p.m. The ordinance will require two readings before a final vote and if it passes, businesses will have a six-month transition period to go through any current inventory. This timeline could see plastic bags gone by January 2016.

3 comments

    • Fulton Bantor on May 6, 2015 at 12:10 am

    You still can use the banned bag. You just have to buy it by the box. The store will even sell you a thicker plastic, paper or reusable. This should really be called the buy your own bag bill. It has nothing to do with litter. The reusable bag has it’s own problems. It has to be washed and remembered. It also can’t take the place of what the free bag used to do so people will buy prepackaged plastic to line their waste baskets and pick up dog pooh.
    Also you will find people will do their bulk shopping where there is no ban. The plastic bag has the greenest footprint. It is recyclable, reusable and sanitary. If the goal is to make the corporations richer than this will accomplish that.

    • Jack Wilkerson on May 6, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    I have been following the emotional campaigns against plastic shopping bags for years. Most of the pro bag ban movement is based on fraudulent claims. Nobody seems to doubt that everything on the internet is true. After you read every Environmental Impact Study like I have, you realize it is the bag banners who inadvertently seek to harm the environment. The latest EIS is from the UK Environment Agency. The title is: Life Cycle Assessment of Supermarket Carrier Bags. Which shopping bag has the least impact? The bag with the lowest weight, reused for household trash, and made from waste natural gas(not oil). The 6 gram plastic shopping bag. 75 bags per lb. Paper bags are the worst. 7 bags per lb. Made from trees clear cut for miles, even counties, to make paper using the most polluting methods. Reusable bags require crimes against humanity to produce. Sweat shops and child labor according to reporters who tracked down their production sites. What about the 100,000’s of sea turtles killed by plastic bags? There aren’t that many in the whole earth. Another fraud. Yes, some sea turtles are harmed off the coast of a few cities with no catch basin on the storm drain. That is a problem for all types of litter. Sue the cities to clean up their storm drains. The final irony? Plastic bag companies in Ireland after the bag ban had to add 300 employees to keep up with the huge increase in plastic bag sales. A full 70% uptick in business. When you ban 6 gram grocery bags that are reused for trash, customers must buy 18 gram trash bags to replace them.

    • Michael Hoskinson on May 15, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Probably the worst unintended (?) consequence is the high level of division the bag ban caused to Huntington Beach. As one of the people intimately involved in the repeal it was shocking to me how angry and unreasonable folks on both sides got over this issue….I was quoted as saying “if you want to start a fight in HB just start a talk about plastic bags”. The bag ban brings out a very troubling human trait…environmental suspension of disbelief. We found that there is a big part of the populace that wants desperately to believe Man is destroying the planet and there are few boundaries they won’t compel their neighbors across so that they can feel environmentally better about themselves. I can’t urge your citizens strongly enough to refuse this insanity, it will split your town apart (which may be the real intention) in addition, most important is that the bans have no real positive effect on the environment, look at this quote from our garbage company rep: “During the ban, Sue Gordon, the community relations manager for Rainbow Environmental Services, said she saw no impact – there seemed to be just as many bags in circulation as before.

    “No matter what, the plastic bags we pick up get recycled,” Gordon said. “We never did see a measurable difference.”

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