Good Hope students call for ban on plastic grocery bags
Published: May 28, 2011
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ST. CROIX - Graduating seniors from Good Hope School urged a V.I. Legislature committee to ban plastic bags in grocery and convenience stores.
The Good Hope Class of 2011 started working on the campaign to "Say No to Plastic Bags" as part of their class project in January 2008 at the urging of their class adviser Ingrid Camacho. And Friday morning, they testified before the Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection at the Legislature's Frits E. Lawaetz Conference Room on St. Croix
After years of newspaper ads, road signs, banners, supermarket billboards and selling reusable bags, the students testified a week before graduation in an effort to help encourage a bill that would implement a 10 cent fee for plastic bags in supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores before ultimately banning them completely at those venues.
Class of 2011 president Shenique Jeremiah and seniors Malcom Edwards, Carisma Bishop and Eric Guzman testified before the committee.
"You, we, and the entire community must recognize the urgency of finding an immediate solution to reducing the tremendous amount of solid waste in our territory," Jeremiah said. "The time for excuses has passed. It is time to put a measure in place now."
Jeremiah also said the Anguilla Landfill, which is where most of the plastic bags end up, is a threat to human health when underground fires occur and argued that its location next to the airport is not a positive first impression for tourists.
She said the measure would make a significant difference and have an immediate positive impact on the island.
"We strongly believe that these little bags are directly connected not only to our economic and financial growth because of tourism, but to our health and the future of our beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands and our planet," Jeremiah said.
Jeremiah said their class really hopes the bill will pass. "Future generations deserve the same beautiful environment that you and we have been able to enjoy," she said.
"Discouraging plastic bags use through fees or bans first gained attraction outside of the U.S. in nations such as South Africa, Ireland, China and Bangladesh," Edwards said. "In January 2011, Washington D.C. implemented a 5 cent surcharge on disposable pare and plastic bags. A handful of California cities already ban single-use plastic bags after San Francisco became the first to do so in 2007."
Sen. Nereida Rivera-O'Reilly said the students' efforts have not been in vain. "You have been able to create awareness in the community," Rivera-O'Reilly said.
Rivera-O'Reilly said, however, that breaking old habits have been really difficult and she asked the students if they had a solution for people that keep forgetting to bring their reusable bags to the grocery store.
Jeremiah responded saying if she had to pay 10 cents per bag she would be likely to remember to bring reusable bags when shopping.
"When it hits you in the pocketbook, you will remember," agreed Rivera-O'Reilly.
Sen. Craig Barshinger said he would sponsor the bill if Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone does not go forward with it.
Sen. Louis Hill, Planning and Environmental Protection Committee chairman, said the act should be named in honor of the Good Hope School. "We promise you we will move swiftly to act on this measure," Hill said.
- Contact Cristian Simescu at 774-8772 ext. 459 or email email@example.com.