Last session we were not successful in getting legislation passed, which would have given local governments the ability to protect their communities from the harmful impact of single use plastics, there are several communities acting on their own, including Coral Gables. We are gearing up for the 2018 session that starts in January! We will also be hosting several outreach and education events. Get involved! Check out our community calendar for event dates.
To date, 27 municipalities across Florida have passed resolutions
In support of local control of single-use plastic bags.
The following municipalities support the home rule of single-use plastic
Village of Key Biscayne
City of Melbourne Beach
City of Miami Beach
Village of Pinecrest
Saint Augustine Beach
City of Satellite Beach
City of Surfside
City of Coconut Creek
City of Bonita Springs
Town of Davie
City of South Miami
Town of Cutler Bay
City of Key West
City of Fernandina Beach
City of Hallandale Beach
Town of Indiatlantic
City of Lake Worth
City of Layton
Village of Islamorada
City of Marathon
City of West Palm Beach
City of North Miami
City of Pensacola
City of Fort Walton Beach
What we are up to:
Earth Ethics, Inc. in partnership with the League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area, Ocean Hour, Bream Fishermen Association, Panhandle Watershed Alliance, and Florida Clean Water Network kicked off their Kick the Plastic Campaign with a viewing of Plastic Paradise at Tree House Cinema in Gulf Breeze in 2016. Other events have been held in Milton at the historic Imogene Theater.
The outreach and education campaign will address plastic use and consumption, impacts to the environment, marine species, and public health. To keep up to date on events, visit and like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/timesaredrasticbantheplastic/
Here are 10 small things you can do to make a big difference!!
First, take the pledge at www.plasticparadisemovie.com
And then you can start by doing the following- all at once or one step at a time:
1. Bring your own cloth bag to the grocery store (or any store!).
Each year over one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide. Because these bags are so light and thin, they are easily carried by the wind out into the environment. Instead, use reusable bags to get your groceries and other purchases home. Preferably, use ones made of cotton. Some of the cheap one that you get at the grocery store contain plastic – and they aren’t usually as durable.
2. Kick the bottle – Stop using single-use plastic water bottles.
Buy and use a reusable bottle and fill with water. Opt for tap in restaurants.
3. Ditch the straws!
They’re unnecessary plastic. At a restaurant, tell your server that you don’t want a straw. At coffee shops, bring your own reusable cup for your iced coffee. If you really like using straws, you can buy ones made of glass or stainless steel. They also make paper straws and you could compost them when done.
4. Pack your own lunch for work or school.
Green your lunch with reusable drinking bottles, reusable sandwich bags, and snack containers. Just say no to soda bottles and prepackaged snacks in plastic baggies! Use a reusable cloth bag or old-fashioned steel lunch box to carry your lunch to work or school.
5, Reusable containers are rad!
When it comes to lunch and leftovers, ditch the plastic bag and use reusable containers instead. Reusable containers are just as easy to use and far less harmful to the planet. Store all your food in glass containers. If you purchase something bottled in glass, clean it and reuse it!
6. Rethink the drink!
We all know that reusable water bottles are the way to go, but what about other types of beverages? Bring your own reusable steel or ceramic beverage container with soda (from Sodastream), juices, or coffee!
7. Whenever possible, buy food in bulk.
Buying food in bulk helps to reduce the total amount of packaging materials consumed. Many markets offer things like nuts, cereal, granola, in bulk. Just remember BYOBag!
8. Don’t buy plastic-wrapped produce.
I know, sometimes when you’re in a rush it’s easier to just grab a package of 3 bell peppers…but it’s unnecessary plastic. Bring your reusable produce bag and pick out your produce.
9. Recycle or Reuse Materials.
In those instance where you must us plastic, please make sure to recycle or reuse it.
10. Avoid products that use plastic to begin with.
Plastic is made from petroleum today hence it is so ubiquitous. Plastic is convenient, but most of the cheaper grades (the clear stuff) find its way into our food, often leaving a film or anything that is wrapped in it and which we then eat. Microwaving anything in plastic cooks plastic residues right into the food, vaporizing the food and other chemicals that contaminate air. (preventdisease.com)
Let’s all do our part to take care of the environment and ourselves!
In the News – October 2015:
Dave Berman reports for Florida Today – “Brevard County commissioners…approved a resolution supporting getting more power in regulating the use of single-use plastic carry-out bags…Currently, under state statute, Florida’s counties and cities are unable to make local rules related to plastic bags.” Read Brevard County seeks power to regulate plastic bags.
An article from The New Yorker discussing New York’s plastic bag campaign – April 2016:
More on the plastic fight!
TakePart: Can These Inventions Save Oceans From Our Plastic Habit?
France Becomes First Country to Ban Plastic Silverware, Plates and Cups
6 Plastic Bag Bans Making a Huge Difference
Skip the Bag: Plastic Bag Facts
A move in the wrong direction!
Can Plastic Ever Be Made Illegal?
Letters to the Editor:
Use reusable bags
For approximately 40 years items such as single use plastic bags, developed for the sole purpose of making our lives unaccountably easy, have become so much a part of our lives that we take them for granted, feeling entitled to receive them free when we purchase any items, using once at an estimated rate of hundreds per year, per person.
Without a thought we then casually toss them out of our immediate sight where they become part of ever growing volumes of trash piles and debris, littering the byways of our highways, flying into branches of trees, destroying the natural beauty and cleanliness of our landscape.
Because they do not biodegrade they find their way into our storm systems and all waterways choking off life for millions of living creatures (sea life, birds and other mammals) every year.
Minimally effective, recycling of these bags is said to be less than a very small percentage of the billions of new bags generated annually.
One way consumers can effectively begin to eliminate (or at the very least minimize) this problem is to use our own reusable bags at the grocery store and whenever we shop for anything.
The choice is ours, the responsibility is ours. Our behavior will determine the outcome of the future and the generations to follow.
— Ann Davis, Pensacola, April 2, 2017
Ban Plastic Bags
With the legislative session well underway, I am writing to encourage the residents and representatives of Northwest Florida to support HB93/S162 in order to give local governments the ability to protect their communities from the harmful impact of single-use plastics.
HB93/S162 would allow municipalities with populations under 100,000 to create a pilot program to regulate or ban disposable plastics. As I am sure you are aware, Florida lawmakers passed a bill in 2008 forbidding local governments from making their own policies regarding single-use plastics until the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) could create recommendations and those recommendations are adopted by the Legislature. The DEP made recommendations to discourage the use of single-use plastics, but the Legislature still has not adopted it.
There is a great deal of scientifically based information regarding the damage caused to wildlife and the environment by the plastic pollution. Our economy relies so much on tourism and ecotourism, the impacts of plastic pollution has been shown to have an adverse impact on this industry.
We urge you not only to support the current legislation, but we ask that local municipalities draft a resolution in support of HB93/S162. To date, over 25 communities in Florida have drafted and signed resolutions to this effect, including Pensacola.
– Mary Gutierrez, Executive Director, Earth Ethics and Earth Action, March 29, 2017
Legislature should act on bags bill
As a resident of Pensacola, I wanted to write to PNJ to encourage residents and representatives of Northwest Florida to support House Bill 93 and Senate Bill 162, which would allow municipalities with populations under 100,000 to create a pilot program to regulate or ban disposable plastics.
In 2008, a bill in Florida was passed forbidding local governments from making their own policies regarding single-use plastics until the DEP could create recommendations, and those recommendations were adopted by the Legislature. The DEP made recommendations to discourage the use of single-use plastics, but the Legislature still has not adopted them. So, at this point, even if every single voter in Escambia County voted on a plan to reduce the use of single-use plastics, we would not be able to put that plan into action as we wait on the Florida Legislature to do what they said they would do.
The Pensacola City council has already drafted a resolution in support of this bill. I urge everyone to contact their representatives at the state levels in support of HB93/S162. Let’s bring the authority to regulate our environment and economy back to the local level in Florida.
— Elizabeth MacWhinnie, Pensacola, Earth Ethics Inc. Board Member, April 2, 2017
Bring our own bags
According to a 2010 Florida Department of Environmental Protection Report, only 12 percent of the single-use plastic bags we use for groceries or other items are reused or recycled. This means billions of bags are free to harm Florida’s marine wildlife, clog our important flood-prevention drainage systems and form pools of water to breed mosquitoes.
These single-use plastic bags do not decompose. As the degraded bags flake and break apart, the waste pollutes our water systems, forming large garbage patches in the oceans. Thousands of marine mammals and sea birds die every year after ingesting degraded bags or becoming entangled by them. The chemicals in these degraded bags are released into the air and the raw materials used to produce plastic packaging frequently find their way into the environment.
While our tax dollars continue to pay for clean-up, our legislature has done nothing in response to this report. But we can. With just a little effort we can start bringing our own bags to the store decreasing the damage of plastic to our community. You can buy bags or make them from old T-shirts. It is a small step with a big result.
— Gail Honea, Pensacola, June 2016
Plastic bags are not good for Florida. In addition to the dangers posed to marine life cited in the May 16 letter, there is more bad news.
Plastic bags are a fossil fuel product.Worldwide 1.6 billion gallons of oil are used to produce plastic bags. Florida Department of Environment Protection (FDEP) reports Americans use 90 billion plastic bags yearly and only 12% are recycled. The carbon footprint of 13 plastic bags is equal to one gallon of gas. An average bag is used for 12 minutes. One to two million single-use plastic bags are used per minute worldwide. 80% of plastic in the ocean comes from land via storm drains, rivers, etc. We’ve all seen it.
In a 2010 report to the Legislature, FDEP sites not only the impact on wildlife and the environment but plastic bags hamper recycling, waste management, stormwater management, and litter control. Ocean Conservancy finds plastic bags the forth most frequent item worldwide. The earth can’t absorb plastic. It never goes away.
Knowing this, don’t reusable shopping bags make sense?They cost one dollar or less at most stores.
— Carolyn Kolb, Navarre, May 2016
Everywhere we look, there’s plastic. It has infiltrated our lives in one way or another, medical equipment, laptops, cars, cookware, etc. It’s made life easier and we have become so accustomed to the presence of plastic that it is difficult to envision life without it. But we need to. I’m not talking about the use of plastic where it’s a proven benefit. I’m talking about single use plastic (bags and bottles), plastic cookware, plastic covering fruits and vegetables. Places where plastics is not needed. Plastics that have proven to be harmful to the environment and public.
We need to minimize the use of some plastics and eliminate the use of others. We need to ensure that the manufacturing of plastics is not adversely impacting the environment and public health. We can start by not using plastic bottles and plastic bags. Use canvas bags and reusable water containers instead.
We can work together to eliminate the use of plastics. Hawaii passed a plastic bag ban so have Portland, Oregon, and Chicago. St. Augustine, FL is currently working on a volunteer plastic bag ban, other cities have implemented plastic bag user fees. Let’s be part of the plastic purge!
— Mary Gutierrez, Pensacola, August 2016