As a lifelong Isle of Palms resident and now as it’s Mayor, I’ve seen the proliferation of plastics everywhere. Part of our City’s vision statement says that we are elected to leave our island better for future generations. It is for this reason, that I come before you, asking that we lead the East Coast in being environmentally sensitive.
I know as a small city mayor how much time I put in for my community, which pales to your level of politics. However, we were all elected by our constituents to represent them. It is because we listened to our constituents that we became the first community in South Carolina to ban single use plastics bags. We heard our people loud and clear. They were right to demand that we take better care of our environment. At our April, 2015 city council meeting, we had young families come speak before council concerning the proliferation of single use plastic bags on the island and that our environment, marine life and just the appearance of trash bags and all other kinds of other plastic products were being found everywhere throughout our community, beaches, state highways and in our rivers from the mountains to our seacoast, it was a growing problem. These families came before their elected officials to explain why they felt so passionate about our doing something.
While banning such trash may not be profitable to plastics industry, it would be doing something that was in fact, making our community, our county, our state, and our world a better place to live for future generations. I ask you, our elected state officials to listen to your constituents who are all pleading our state to become environmentally sensitive. A friend, Goffinet McLaren, said and I quote, “Let’s hope that our government understands that having a planet we can live on is more important than the plastics industry.”
We, the Isle of Palms City Council heard our constituent’s plea to stop the plastics on our island. Not only do they litter our beaches, marshes and highways, but they are harmful to our sea creatures that ingest them, thinking they are food, or they get tangled up in plastics and die.
Please, come to Charleston and let me take you to the South Carolina Aquarium so you can see, what I call, their wall of shame showing the effects described above. It shows plastic lined beaches, it shows the time frame that it takes plastics to break down, which eventually ends up on our dinner plates in the seafood we eat.
I know that, like me, the aquarium representative, Kelly Thorvalson, came to your last hearing to give testimony, but to only be blocked out from speaking by the plastics industry who spoke for 35 minutes, whereas we, as instructed, all prepared 3-minute presentations.
I won’t bore you with all the facts of the amount of plastics that we are putting into our environment every year. It is not just a coastal problem, but a worldwide issue.
California and Hawaii have already banned plastics, the European Parliament overwhelmingly approved a plastics ban, their vote being 571-53.
My plea is not just about plastics, but against banning home rule. Not every community has the same issues, but we all share the same state. Let’s be leaders who listen to their constituents and act on what they hear. Let’s challenge the plastics industry to come up with better solutions, like using cornstarch or other bioplastics that are naturally renewable. Our country has always led the way with technology, now, let’s help lead the way in being environmentally sensitive.
Let’s think globally, but start locally. Look around the Lowcountry, Folly Beach, Charleston, Sullivan’s Island, the Isle of Palms and now, even Charleston County are all banning plastics. Please, vote down Senate Bill S.394, we, the smaller cities and towns know what is best for us.
Mayor, Isle of Palms