The Aiken City Council is planning to address an ordinance to reduce use of single-use plastic bags in our community. This can be a controversial topic from many sides; but it is a very important and timely one. Already several communities in South Carolina have restrictions or bans on single-use plastic bags. Two examples are Camden (cityofcamden.org) and Mt. Pleasant (tompsc.com) should readers wish to seek more information. Across the U.S., about 200 communities and several states have introduced bans.
Although there are some specific cases where the use of plastic bags may be needed, the majority of shopping can be accomplished by using reusable bags. Many residents in European countries are doing this successfully, and they may be models for us.
Since my interest is on the litter aspect, this letter will focus on the dangers of littered plastic bags, although there may be many other concerns as well. Littered plastic bags are dangerous to plants and animals and waterways. Wildlife, especially birds and fish ingest these items and die. Plastic bags covering plants shut out air and sunlight necessary for growth. Although Aiken is not near the ocean, we are near two rivers and several streams, which may eventually empty into the ocean; where there is a very serious problem with plastic pollution.
Certainly, most of us as vehicle drivers have seen plastic bags blowing in roadways or parking lots. These can be especially dangerous if the bags get sucked into or lodged into car parts such as exhaust systems, axles, drive belts, etc. They can cause a risk to the driver and passengers; possibly start a fire, melt onto car parts and necessitate repairs. If a plastic bag suddenly sticks to the windshield, even briefly, it can be a traffic hazard blocking the driver’s line of sight.
Then there is the beauty of the community. It is not attractive to our residents, visitors or tourists to see plastic bags blowing along roads and streets, snagged in tree branches, or fences, or lying in ditches and parking lots. Not to mention whose responsibility it is to retrieve these littered bags.
Therefore, I support the City Council in considering a restrictive use of single-use plastic bags that have be a positive outcome to all. By searching the internet, much more information can be found regarding plastic bags. Readers are encouraged to contact their City Council representative and weigh in on this topic.