Isle Of Palms Magazine Spring/Summer 2019

8 | | B eachgoers long for ocean breezes, sand between their toes and gentle waves – not plastic bags blowing in the wind, plastic debris scattered along the shore and plastics washing out to sea. For the loggerhead turtle, South Carolina’s state reptile, plastic bags floating in the ocean are too easily mistaken for the jellyfish they feed on. South Carolina Aquarium Conservation Programs Manager Kelly Thorvalson said, “I spent much of my career treating sick and injured sea turtles and have seen firsthand the devastating impact plastics have.” She noted that the aquarium has treated 25 sea turtles with plastics in their gastrointestinal tracts. “There is more research now than ever about how widespread the issue is throughout the marine food chain, and freshwater aquatic systems are equally at risk,” she said. “The problems are escalating, here in the U.S. and around the globe. It’s imperative that we find solutions.” Isle of Palms was the first municipality in South Carolina to ban certain single-use plastics. Following its successful ban on plastic bags in 2015, now Isle of Palms is expanding the ban to include plastic straws, plastic stirrers and polystyrene products. Joining the movement, other local governmental units in the Lowcountry have enacted their own plastics bans. According to Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll, the overall response from local businesses to the ban has been positive, although initially “there was some moaning because paper bags, straws and cardboard cost more.” Carroll said, “Please understand this may not be as convenient, but, if we look at the big picture, it will make things better for future generations instead of piling up more and more trash.” He said there has been a definite decline in the amount of plastic on the beach since the 2015 ordinance went into effect and that he expects a further decrease after the expanded ban begins. The Coastal Conservation League, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting Paper or Paper? Isle of Palms Leads the Way By Frances J. Pearce Paper or reusable bags significantly reduce the damage done by the everyday plastic bag. Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags floating in the ocean for the jellyfish they feed on.