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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Paper or plastic? That’s the discussion between New Hanover County Commissioners and Wrightsville Beach Aldermen. Last week, they revisited the idea of a countywide plastic bag ban to be more environmentally friendly.

George Hill has always gotten his groceries in plastic bags. He says they come in handy later.

“Well I tell you, I’ve got a closet full of bags,” Hill says. “I reuse them in the bathroom, I reuse them here and I reuse them in my truck.”

“They are so easily transported by wind and water that they very easily end up in our waste streams, from our waste streams and into our marine environments,” says Sean Ahlum, with the Cape Fear Chapter Surfrider Foundation. “I think it should be a state wide ban on plastic bags because it’s just not a problem on the coast. It’s a problem in our lakes and in our rivers.”

Ahlum says the idea of a bag ban is nothing new. Right now Dare County, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles have enacted bag bans.

Commissioner Jonathan Barfield says he believes folks would be receptive to the bag ban and hopefully start to use their own bags.

However, shoppers we spoke to had mixed ideas.

“I would do the tote bag to tell you the truth if I really got motivated,” Hill says.

“I think when the government decides to do something, they jump in. Well, nine times out of ten they jump wrong,” says Buddy Brown, who is against a plastic bag ban. “I think it’s an intrusion in our lives. I think it’s another government intrusion.”

To get a ban in place, the county will need to go through the general assembly in Raleigh. Commissioner Barfield says they hope to introduce the idea to legislators next year.

WWAY reached out to Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti for comment, but he did not return our calls.

Comment on this Story

  • Beach lover

    I’m confused as how “working for free” relates to a ban on plastic bags. Plastic bags are terrible for the environment. It’s the TRUTH. The majority of plastic bags end up in the ocean, where they are unable to break down and just end up as minuscule particles that trap marine life. Ever heard of the North Atlantic Gyre? Google it. Everything you do in your life relates to the environment. Even using plastic bags.
    Your submitted name is “beach bum” and yet here you are, not even willing to help out and save your own backyard. It’s appalling. Banning plastic bags is just barely placing our foot in the door to turn our community into a green and environmentally friendly city. If people aren’t even willing to change one small aspect of their lives by switching from plastic to paper, then I’ve lost a lot of hope for Wilmington.

  • Guest211


  • No More – No Less

    Paper, please.

  • Guesttoo

    Why on earth do we have to rely on the government for a ban on bags? Let the public speak with their wallets. If you’re against plastic bags, let the “offending” store(s) know that you’re taking your business elsewhere. Numbers speak. If stores see that it makes good business sense to switch to paper bags, then they will. No goofy laws needed.

    Personally, I don’t feel strongly one way or the other about the bag that holds my Buds. I do feel that the governments time could be better spent on more important issues.

  • Truthseeker

    Barfield needs a bag over his head so we do not have to hear the stupid ideas he spouts. It appears our local politicians want to control every aspect of our life. What I suggest is they use the incinerator for their ideas and burn the bags. Barfield you saw what happened to Thompson, you’re next.

  • Beach Bum

    All the hippie causeheads in Wilmington just don’t get it. Keep messing with businesses and there won’t be any business in the Wilmington area to support 3 day work weeks, or the highly over priced apartments in Mayfaire or Mary Kay carpet baggers.

    I offer this challenge to the causeheads…if you honestly feel your need for change is righteous, if you truly feel empathy to all those affected sea life, if you truly want to make a difference then work for free. Give your salary back and have faith.

    Sell all your worldly possessions, work for free and have faith.

    Yeah, that is what I thought. Your selling crap sandwich but don’t want to take a bite.

    Priorities are extremely out of whack here. Jobs are still frozen. Government infrastructure in dire need of attention. And Commissioner Barfield wants to introduce legislature?? Um, yeah. I think the Surfriders should let the adults talk and go back to being seen and not heard.

  • Challengetheworld

    First, this is good but not all good. I would propose we do the following. SUGGEST not demand, that the retail stores save costs on plastic bags by offering a 0.5cent discount per bag used for a customers order. This then benefits the store and the environment. In turn, we don’t infringe on people’s freedom by charging 0.5cents when we need a plastic bag if we don’t bring our own reusables.

  • KGDeAng

    When are people going to start looking at the people who pollute and not the store owners. I do agree that you should do your part for the environment. Look into http://www.BagsOnTheNet.com. They have a lot of alternatives that still help store owner and consumer. Paper is a great one and if you use FSC Certified Paper you know it comes from good sources. They are recycled content, and they are 100% recyclable, and 100% biodegradable.

  • Guest745

    Not only the above localities have banned the plastic bags but the entire state of Hawai’i was the first to enact the ban in the US. It will not take long for that to catch on in other states.

    The simpler solution would be to not litter but that is asking a small percentage of the public too much. Unfortunately, all too many times do they blow out of the back of pick-up trucks, out of garbage cans, etc.

  • get the meaning

    who needs the environmental concerns I want convenience for me. So what if some animal dies, at least I have handles to tote my groceries to the car with.

  • Vog46

    A fedw random thoughts on previous posts:

    “It’s obvious that those survivalist “loons” who move to the most remote parts of Idaho or Montana have the right idea and aren’t loony at all. They’ll be the only ones who enjoy freedom and escape tyranny.”
    C’mon now. Tyranny? Every darned grocery store STILL offers paper bags and most will sell a reusable one, so there’s nothing tyrannical about banning the plastic ones. Good grief.

    “They were not elected to be the ecological conscience of society, despite their superior intellects.”
    Other guest…
    What? They’re not? They oversee landfill operations, waste water treatment, and water treatment. They are indeed the ecological conscience of this area – that’s part of their job. They may not do it to our liking but that’s a different story.

    Two things come to my mind here.
    First we are a tourist area and the natives LOVE the beaches too. As such we want them to stay litter free and the county (and state) should help towns like Wrightsville beach, because the tourists and local generate an awful lot of tax revenue for state, county and local coffers.
    Second – I myself have softened over the years. I have bought reusable grocery bags and quite frankly LIKE them as they serve multiple purposes. This by no means makes me a “tree hugger” but this one is easy, and makes sense.
    The County Commissioners are right to explore this in conjunction with the beach towns it’s in everyones best interest.

    Now as far as saving oil goes, yes this would save us from having to import some oil – but at what cost? A few thousand more trees being taken down? I’m not sure that’s a good trade off. Ecologically paper bags are better as a litter disposal means than plastic as they degrade in landfills.
    We should be doing everything we can to keep out beaches cleaner and minimize fossil fuel use whenever possible. At the same time we should be drilling off our coast looking for more oil and building wind farms there as well.

    Best Regards

  • dogwalkerontheloop

    Ok…now Im going to get a ticket for having a plastic bag. But..If I walk my dog at wrightsville beach, and I dont have a plastic bag in my pocket (pet owners “must” carry the means to pick up pet waste under penalty of law, WP city code)…Im going to get a ticket..I guess Ill be one of those Montana bound loons also…

  • Guest1

    If the motivation behind the ban is truly to eliminate waste and litter, much more effort is required than simply banning plastic bags.

    Areas where the ban is already in effect witnessed their tax revenue increase by millions of dollars in giving consumers the option to pay a 5 cent fee per bag, as is the case in DC. So, are we sure the environemnt is the primary concern of the ban?

  • Citizen of the Republic

    I’m sure Sean Ahlum is full of good intentions.
    And since he’s becoming a semi-spokesman for Wrightsville beach and the County, maybe he is intending on getting around to a new cause that I’m sure many would like to see.

    First it was cigarette butts.
    Now plastic bags.

    What about Wrightsville Beach paying for it’s own damn sand.

    Some people think that a Surfer licensing fee should be enacted to discourage rowdy and reckless surfing close to innocent swimmers. Something akin to a surf driver license, complete with booklet and test to determine a surfers ability. Of course, licensing fees would have to be high, to cover a surfer enforcement officer year round. Maybe a $1000 bond to cover damage to the sand by dragging boards around.

    We could then have surfer enforcement check on all surfers. License, board registration, insurance in case of hitting a swimmer. Yes, responsibility is something needed in the beach community.

    Why should taxpayers that won’t be able to smoke or carry plastic bags, or even those who don’t come to the beach, have to pay Millions of dollars to a Beach that has come to symbolize snobbery, greediness, license plate profiling, and parking enforcement that would make New York City proud.

    Littering laws are already on the books. Use them.
    That would stop runaway bags and smokers who litter with butts.

    Yes my friend, new laws are great, until it effects you.

    Pay for your own sand, then I’ll use paper.

  • Guest2012

    Doesn’t Barfield have to iron his shirt before commenting? JUST TRY to get that ridiculous infringment enacted Barf. Talk about “out of touch!”

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