Virginia Beach, Va. - The City of Virginia Beach is urging residents to consider using reusable bags for shopping and carrying items instead of plastic bags that can pollute the city if they're not discarded properly.
"They're always on the interstate, or just the side roads or something. You hit them and they go flying up," said Amber Wiggins, who uses plastic shopping bags.
You can find those bags almost anywhere, in parking lots, in trees, water and sometimes in harm's way of animals. And the wind can carry them for miles and miles, too. These are just a few of the concerns that prompted the City of Virginia Beach to release a message to its citizens, urging people to think twice before throwing the bags away.
"If they are not properly secured in a container, they can fly like a parachute in the wind," said Linda Minner, Recycling Bureau Manager for the City of Virginia Beach.
Minner says a recent trip to a Keep America Beautiful conference was a big reason for sending out the message. She simply wants people to put the bags in the right places or have them recycled.
"Well, the reason that we put it out is because bags do fly, so in any city, you have occasions where there are plastic bags, and they litter. And so, in general, you know, we're not against plastic bags. They have a function. But we do want to make sure that people dispose of them properly," said Minner.
Just this week, a bill to allow Virginia cities to ban plastic shopping bags passed the state senate. Now that bill is in a house committee for discussion.
But Minner says the release of this message to Virginia Beach citizens was coincidence. It has nothing to do with that bill.
"Really, education is the biggest thing we can do to help our citizens. They want to do the right thing, but they need to know what that right thing is," said Minner.
In the release, the City of Virginia Beach says plastic bags can be taken to local establishments such as grocery stores and the city Landfill and Resource Recovery Center. From there, they will be sent for recycling into new plastic bags and plastic lumber.
If you're disposing of plastic bags in your garbage can, make sure they're properly weighed down first so they don't become "parachutes" in the wind when the container is dumped.
You cannot throw plastic bags into the blue recycling containers that are picked up at the curb.
Following these guidelines can help reduce the waste stream and help keep the city clean and beautiful!