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Bring on the bags

Marine Resources Task Force developing green programs for the town

April 18, 2018
Jessica Salmond - News Editor (jsalmond@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Because of a state statute, it's impossible for a town to ban plastic bags in Florida.

So the town council advisory committee, the Marine Resources Task Force, is getting creative.

Following the successful ban on plastic straws in November, council tasked MRTF to find other solutions to help the island reduce its contribution to plastic pollution.

Article Photos

The Coastal Keeper bags are made of canvas. On one side, there are facts about plastic pollution. On the other, logos of business sponsors that helped pay for the program.

For the past few months, MRTF has been developing an idea to reduce plastic bags by giving away free bags for the town.

The group is preparing to present its idea to the council..

"If we think we can cover the cost and not cost Town Council anything, we'll have a much better chance," said Bill Veach, MRTF chair, at its Wednesday meeting.

MRTF is basing its bag program off of a similar idea from Coastal Keepers, an organization at the Sanibel Sea School. The Sanibel organization pays for quality cloth bags by having local businesses sponsor the bags. Sponsoring businesses get their logos printed on the bag, touting their eco-friendliness, and a list of facts about the negatives of plastic bags goes on the other side.

Unfortunately, the cloth bags are on the more expensive end of reusable bag products. But MRTF wants to use these because many other reusable bags are made out of plastic.

"I don't think we should bother with the cheap ones since they're plastic," Board Members Steve Johnson said, adding it defeats the point.

Veach said, if council approves, the committee could also host some fundraising events to help offset the costs.

Once the bags can be paid for and printed, the committee will hand them out at local grocery stores and maybe give some to hotels and resorts for their guests to use. The guests could take them home, or leave them behind for someone else. The canvas bags are washable.

It's not the only environmentally-friendly project the committee is tackling. The group is also working on a "green" certification that beach properties could earn. Johnson gave a presentation to his board members about other programs he'd found. They discussed doing programs for both homeowners and businesses, and having a kind of weighted list of check marks to help them earn the certification, such as recycling, water conservation, energy conservation and eco-friendly transportation. Those who qualified for the certification could get something that indicated what they'd earned, like the signs that say "Florida-Friendly Yard" for those with native plantings.

"Part of it's education," Johnson said.

MRTF is still working on this program. It will have to take it to council for approval to begin.

"I like getting a sign in someone's yard," Veach said. "Maybe people will learn how things are different here compared to somewhere else."

 
 

 

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