If you have any connection to environmental issues in the Lowcountry, you have likely heard that Hilton Head and Beaufort County banned single-use plastic bags.
Single-use plastic bags catch wind and travel great distances. When they end up over the marine, settle on the surface of the ocean and submerge, they resemble jellyfish, a major food source for leatherback sea turtles.
A ban on plastic bags received overwhelming support from the community. A survey conducted by the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce also conveyed the majority opinion that we could live without the single-use plastic bag.
The community supports the ban, and the environment will benefit.
A plastic bag manufacturer that maintains administrative offices in South Carolina argues their industry takes precedent over the wishes of local citizens, the health of our environment and our water quality. Here in coastal South Carolina, where the salt marsh estuary pervades our Lowcountry for miles inland. We understand the importance of implementing these policies ensuring Spanish moss is hanging from our trees—not plastic bags.
Isle of Palms and, later, Folly Beach also have a ban on plastic bags and look like rock stars. Folly Beach took an extra leap and banned Styrofoam and balloons on their beaches, as well. This is an example of proactive citizens working to solve a problem in their community with real results.
It’s time to protect what is beautiful in our coastal towns and the scenery we enjoy every day. It is a call to action to assist the sea turtles that are confused by the floating plastic. You can make a difference. Tell your local elected officials you support banning plastic bags. Tell your representatives and senators that you oppose House Bill 3529.
Home Rule: Home Rule is the right to self-govern. In the 1970s, South Carolina amended the 1895 State Constitution to delineate the powers of local governments. The Home Rule Act was enacted in 1975. “Local solutions to local problems.”
A fourth-generation Blufftonian, Amber Kuehn is a marine biologist and owner of Spartina Marine Education Charters. The manager of Hilton Head Island’s Sea Turtle Protection Project, she is also an active volunteer for the SC Marine Mammal Stranding Network and performs dolphin necropsies in the field for the National Oceanic Services (NOS). To schedule a Voyage of Discovery with Captain Amber, call (843) 338-2716 or visit spartinacharters.com.
Article by Amber Kuehn