It has been a little longer than a year now since Beaufort County officially banned plastic bags. The ban covered “single-use” plastic bags commonly seen in groceries stores, takeout food, and clothing.
The purpose behind the law was to help our local environment and wildlife. I was surprised when I read about it.
“How can I live without my plastic bags?” I asked myself.
After all, I use them for so many things. I would load my shoes in the bags when I was packing my suitcase. They were perfect to keep the dirty soles from getting on my clean clothes.
I used them for my dog when I took her walking. Nothing like some plastic bags hanging out of your coat pocket to conveniently pick up dog waste.
But I read about the negative impact and embraced the ban.
However, recently, while out of town, I was at a grocery store and the checker asked “Ma’am, plastic or paper?”
I stopped in my tracks, looked around carefully, and whispered, “Plastic and double bag the groceries, please.”
Oh, the shame, the guilt! How could I do it?
But all I could think of at that moment was refilling my old stash at home.
I was reminded on how low I was on plastic bags when I began to unpack my Christmas decorations. The stuffed Teddy Bear dressed like Santa Claus was wrapped in a Publix plastic bag. The wooden Nutcracker sat in a Food Lion plastic bag. Box after box had items packed in plastic bags. Those were the days when I had loads of extra plastic bags.
I must admit it has been interesting to see how we as a community have adapted to our new life without plastic bags. The grocery clerks stopped asking “plastic or paper?”. Now they ask, “Do you have your own bags?”
Many stores like Grayco Hardware and Bill’s Liquors even have signs that ask, “Did you remember to bring your own bag?”
And the grocery stores sell their own reusable grocery bags which clients can bring back week after week.
The community has embraced our “no plastic bag” so well, that when buying a single item at a store, we even tend to say, “Thanks, no bag.”
So, my behavior may seem like I am against the plastic bag ban, but I am really not. I support getting rid of those single use plastic bags.
But the truth is, I use those plastic bags repeatedly and so they are not “single-use” to me.
In the meantime, I will make sure the plastic bags I do bring back into Beaufort County get used repeatedly and not just pitched into the landfill. My guilt will be assuaged.
Lee Scott, a writer and recent retiree, shares her everyday observations about life after career. A former commercial banker responsible for helping her clients to reach their business objectives, Scott now translates those analytical skills to her writings. She lives on St. Helena Island and enjoys boating, traveling and reading.