Local municipalities are taking steps to protect the environment
On a recent National Geographic exploration to one of the deepest known parts of the ocean, the Mariana Trench, a plastic grocery bag was found drifting 35,000 feet under the surface. This was the third time that this incredible event has been documented. Another National Geographic Society incident discovered a whale that died from starvation due to the 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach.
The statistics on single-use plastic bags are staggering. Plastic bags are petroleum based and do not biodegrade. It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce the over 100 million plastic bags used each year in the United States alone. Many of these bags make their way into the ocean and are mistaken for food by a variety of marine life. Studies have shown that one out of three leatherback sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs. The turtles often mistake the bags to be a tasty jellyfish lunch. Estimates consistently show that over 100,000 marine creatures die each year from plastic. Anyone who sees a bag blowing down the beach or stuck high in a tree will also agree that they are an eyesore. Plastic continues to be an issue for the environment and marine life, but the Grand Strand is taking steps to address it.
Surfside Beach has led the way among oceanfront cities by enacting a ban on single-use plastic bags, replaceable by biodegradable bags or recyclable paper. The first reading was on January 9, 2018, and the ban became effective on June 1, 2018. Council member Mark L. Johnson said simply, “It was the right thing to do.” The City of North Myrtle Beach has passed similar ordinances aimed at helping the environment, which go into effect incrementally over the next two years. The City of Myrtle Beach is currently crafting an ordinance of their own for consideration by Council.
A recent trip to a store in Surfside Beach resulted in a green bag, which was imprinted with “This biodegradable bag is our commitment to the environment.” Many North Myrtle Beach businesses are already taking proactive steps. David Stebbins, a manager at Locals eatery, stated, “We already offer alternative straws and are gearing up for the bags. It’s a small price to pay for helping the environment.”
Local communities taking small steps now will lead to big results in the future.