Commissioners and Aldermen discuss countywide plastic bag ban, shoppers react

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Submitted: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 3:34am
Updated: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 5:01pm

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.


  • Beach Bum says:

    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.

  • Truthseeker says:

    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.

  • Guesttoo says:

    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.

  • No More - No Less says:

    Paper, please.

  • Guest2012 says:

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

  • Guest211 says:


  • Citizen of the Republic says:

    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.

  • Guest1 says:

    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?

  • dogwalkerontheloop says:

    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…

  • Beach lover says:

    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.

  • Vog46 says:

    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

  • get the meaning says:

    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.

  • Guest745 says:

    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.

  • KGDeAng says:

    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 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.

  • Challengetheworld says:

    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.

  • Guest 222222 says:

    Where is the like button on here?

  • tired of politicians says:

    how about a ban on politicians?????

  • Guest CommonTater says:

    Important to note. Paper will break down!

    Do away with both and I will have no arguments trust me. This was crucify plastic bags this go Das. ;)

    “We should all be required to use canvas/cloth bags.”

    I do use them. Trunk is full of cloth bags…..

    **nothing is “free”… it’s built in to the cost of doing business and is recouped in the pricing of the items we buy.

  • Das Weibstück says:

    Mr research said: That the same number of paper grocery bags uses five times MORE total energy to produce and use. A paper grocery bag isn’t just made out of trees. Manufacturing 100 million paper bags with 1/3 post consumer recycled content requires petroleum energy inputs equivalent to approximately 15,100 barrels of oil (634K gal.) plus additional inputs from other energy sources including hydroelectric power, nuclear energy and wood waste.

    Making sound environmental choices is hard, especially when the product is “free” like bags at most grocery stores. When the cashier rings up a purchase and bags it in a paper bag, the consumer doesn’t see that it took at least a gallon of water to produce that paper bag (more than 20 times the amount used to make a plastic bag), it also weighed 10 times more on the delivery truck and took up seven times as much space as a plastic bag in transit to the store and will ultimately result in between tens and hundreds of times more greenhouse gas emissions than a plastic bag.

    We should all be required to use canvas/cloth bags.

  • Dare County Resident says:

    You empty all liquid before disposing it. You think about it.

  • Guest1946 says:

    Not much way to use paper bags for garbage unless you don’t dispose of anything liquid. Think about it.

  • Also live in Dare says:

    I agree with the previous comment from a Dare resident. Since the ban, we no longer have miniature “parachutes” decorating our trees and bushes along our roads. I used to fairly often snag bags in the water while fish. That hasn’t happened in quite a while now.

  • Guest Redneck Across the River says:

    I wonder if our elected “leaders” are naturally this stupid or did they take lessons? What next, a permit to use the bathroom?

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    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.

  • GuestMan. says:

    I can think of about 3 or 4 people that post on this board that should move out there with them.

  • GuestAboutTown says:

    Plastic bags are much more useful than a politician’s bloviations. Plastic bags are handy for the disposal of dogpiles and catpan clumps. Unfortunately I can’t think of anything equivalently useful from a politician.

  • GuestME says:

    They spew a lot of poo too. You just can’t collect it in a plastic bag.

  • GuestieGuest says:

    While I don’t feel one way or the other about this personally, it would be interesting to see how all the big national chains respond to this. Everyone automatically thinks “grocery store” when you say plastic bag, but think about all those bags going out of Sears, Target, Kmart, Home Depot, etc, etc. And some of those bags are pretty huge, too. I can’t imagine they’re paying to have special paper bags printed up just for those limited markets.

    In the areas where plastic bag bans are already in place, what are these stores doing? And if you ban plastic shopping bags, are plastic garbage bags next?

  • Dare County Resident says:

    I live in Dare County and had mixed feelings about the bag ban. I have gotten used to not having plastic bags. We use paper bags or reusable bags. The environment is cleaner. We don’t see plastic bags hanging on the bushes, blowing down the road, or in the water anymore. The ban has actually made a difference. The big stores have switched to paper and the paper bags can also be used as garbage bags. It takes a little getting used to at first but then you adjust.

  • Guest55 says:

    This is something that many of us have been waiting to happen for quite some time! We need to build support and educate folks on ridding our dependence of these plastic bags that take a major toll on our environment. Please keep this story in the news so people are educated. We need this action to take place!

  • Guest2264 says:

    WB just can’t stand it, they have to try to control everything? I use those bags for my garbage can. So let’s see, now I would have to BUY garbage bags? It all boils down to one thing, DON’T LITTER!

  • Guest CommonTater says:

    eventually doesn’t it? I think the ban should be nationwide personally. This is a huge waste of oil IMHO.

    “Plastic bags are made from oil: it takes about 430,000 gallons of oil to produce 100 million plastic bags, and the U.S. goes through 380 billion of them a year.”

    It is estimated that 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide per year!

    And how about this?

    “For every bag, there’s a cost. Environment California reports that plastic bags, and other plastic refuse that end up in the ocean, kill up to one million sea creatures every year, such as birds, whales, seals, sea turtles, and others. And the number of marine mammals that die each year because of eating or being entanglement in plastic is estimated at 100,000 in the North Pacific Ocean alone.”

    Educate yourself, if possible. There are many reasons plastic bags are bad. Google is your friend.

    As far as your precious trash bags….pfft… buy them. Good grief folks like to whine about what a hardship life is while the world dies around them….

  • OtherGuest says:

    I wonder when they will get around to deciding on approved uniforms for the citizenry?

    Govermnent representatives with nothing better to discuss need to find another job. They should be attending to the BUSINESS of the people, and that is all. They were not elected to be the ecological conscience of society, despite their superior intellects.

  • taxpayer says:

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

    Barfield would have you believe folks around here would be receptive to anything he’s in favor of. Why?…because he’s in favor of it.

  • OtherGuest says:

    That’s because of his intellectual superiority……

    You should be thankful he is thinking for us and guiding us in all the best ways.

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