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HomeNewsArchivesWMA Launches New Effort to Curtail Use of Plastic Bags

WMA Launches New Effort to Curtail Use of Plastic Bags

July 9, 2006 – "They are handy and good looking," said George Gumbs, as he picked his choice of reusable shopping bag: bright blue, lime green, orange or purple. Another lady put a box of cereal right into her bag. "It's good when you go shopping, just put your groceries right in!"
V.I. Waste Management Authority representatives and their summer employment students set up tables Saturday in front of Cost-U-Less stores on St. Croix and St. Thomas and the Starfish Market on St. John, giving away the reusable bags in hopes of reducing plastics in local landfills.
Shoppers crowded around the tables, anxious to get a bag to put their groceries in. "They are quite popular; we want everyone to at least have one," said Stella Saunders, VIWMA communications director.
Saunders explained that the authority is an autonomous agency that split off from the Department of Public Works to deal with solid waste and wastewater. "As part of our campaign to reduce the amount of plastic bags going into the landfill, we are asking shoppers to utilize these reusable bags," Saunders said.
Since the territory does not have a plastic or paper recycling plant, using one bag would eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime, Saunders said. While the summer students — Jason Philip, Shainna Coram, Yianley Smith — and staff member Oretha Liburd helped distribute the bags, Saunders reminded them to explain to shoppers the negative effects of plastic.
With each bag handed out, the students told shoppers that while plastic is efficient, durable and easily recycled, plastics can also pollute the soil and sea if not recycled. Marine life is also threatened when animals mistake the plastic bags for food.
Saunders said by involving the summer students, they learn how to protect the environment and recognize the positive impacts of being environmentally conscious. She hopes they will pass on the knowledge to their peers and family, encouraging them to use environmentally safe products.
The students are involved in the "Greenhouse Program," which raises decorative plants for nonprofit landscaping projects. The program also loans plants to government agencies to use during programs, such as graduations and awards ceremonies.
Saunders said there are 125 summer participants in each district, including team leaders.
The six-week program teaches participants financial management, first aid and the proper use of gardening tools and landscaping equipment.
Ellie Rose, a visitor from Charlotte, N.C., thought the reusable bags were a great idea. She and her friend picked up two bags. "At home I save my plastic bags and bring them back to the store," said Rose. "So this is a good thing for the environment."
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