Written by Karen and David Martin
A movement is afoot in Cheboygan. The effort is to REDUCE the plastic shopping bag (PSB) in Cheboygan (City and County). Note to all readers, this could be your community as well!
My son David and I want to reduce PSBs locally. Is there a PSBs problem? You decide. Our own Cheboygan State Park participates each September in the Adopt-a-Beach clean-up program. PSBs made up 13 percent of the trash. Source Great Lakes Alliance.
According to U.S. Census, Cheboygan Co. has 11,459 households. The average American home uses 9 bags per week (468 a year). Source http://reducing4more.wordpress.com/2008/01/19/plastic-bags-how-much/
That adds up to 5.3 MILLION plastic shopping bags used in a small rural county every single year! Furthermore, according to the EPA less than 5 percent of PSBs are recycled. That means 95 percent of PSBs in Cheboygan County are NOT being recycled. That’s a staggering: FIVE MILLION BAGS!
Just like our homes get dirty, requiring much housework, so to with our bigger home, our town, our county, and our planet. We feel it’s time to clean our shared “house”. We’d like fewer PSBs on our beaches. We’d like to reduce the number of discarded PSB’s in our county. Five million is simply too many.
How are we doing this? The first part of “how” is through education. By Letters to the Editor, at live presentations, on Internet Radio, hand-outs, and door-to-door when weather improves. We need to educate the general community as well as our government officials. The second part is collecting as many signatures on petitions as possible throughout the County. We will petition our local government bodies to develop and implement an ordinace on PSBs.
A typical ordinance addresses how you see or don’t see the cost of PSBs and paper bags. You may be unaware, but we are paying for bags now via “hidden charges”, not seen on receipts. An ordinance can require a fee on bags on RECEIPTS. The end result: shoppers can choose to continue paying for plastic or paper bags. Or use reusable bags and avoid that “hidden charge”.
A guest at one of our live presentations on 2/19/14 was Trevor Macleod who recently returned home to Cheboygan from Santa Cruz California. Santa Cruz passed a ban on PSBs in 2012 which took effect in 2013. Mr. Macleod was asked how it came about, and how the community reacted to this effort and ordinance. He replied “..it started as a grass roots movement, much like this one”, and “the community felt a duty and responsibility towards this effort”.
The reason we chose to petition for a local ordinance, is simple, it’s ACHIEVABLE! Over 100 municipalities, within 15 states, have successfully banned or reduced plastic bag usage. From Austin, Texas in the south to Homer, Alaska in the north; from San Francisco California on the West Coast to Brookline, Massachusetts on the East Coast.
Some facts on global impact of PSBs: every square mile of ocean contains about 46,000 pieces of floating plastic, PSBs can take up to 1,000 years to break down, there is six times more plastic debris in parts of the North Pacific Ocean than zooplankton.
Sources: Environmental Protection Agency; Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, World Watch Institute, ACF newsource
Anyone interested in helping in this movement please contact David Martin at 1-231-818-6806, or Mary Karen Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.