Litter is the enemy, not plastic

Litter is the enemy, not plastic
November 28 08:08 2018 Print This Article

Charleston City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday banning the use of carry-out plastic bags, plastic straws and styrofoam containers. The ordinance makes Charleston the 10th coastal community to impose such bans, joining Mt. Pleasant, Sullivans Island, Isle of Palms, Folly Beach and some Beaufort County governments. I think the well-meaning ordinance misses the point – our problem lies with litter and a throw-away culture, not plastic.

Having done dozens of litter pick-ups through the years, I am disgusted by all the slobs who think it’s ok to toss litter out of their car windows. Let’s address the problem with a public information campaign on not littering. Ralph Morgan, one of my professors at the University of South Carolina, produced an award-winning public service ad for Keep America Beautiful in the 1970s showing a Native American in a canoe shedding a tear when he saw litter clogging the edge of the river. Surely, we have creative minds in the area who can produce public service announcements showing the menace of littering to our beautiful Lowcountry. Phase 2 could be levying fines to modify the bad behavior.

The initial adjustments will be felt be grocery stores, retail establishments and restaurants, which will have to replace their plastic bags and styrofoam containers with more expensive paper and cardboard. Customers will have to use paper straws, which break down after several minutes. I have personally shopped with re-usable bags for more than 10 years. They are easy to carry and easy to unload. Grocery stores would be wise to give the low-cost bags to customers.

I predict that plastic bag bans won’t put a dent in our massive litter problem. Let’s fight the real enemy!