Letters to the Editor

Plastic grocery bags don’t recycle

To the Editor:

The Environmental Action Community (EAC) of Western North Carolina, a nonprofit organization based in Haywood County, is participating in a reusable bag give-way at four of the county convenience centers this month as well as other activities in April, the month of Earth Day. Sturdy, large reusable bags supplied by Haywood County’s Recycling Office, will be given away to help combat the misunderstanding that plastic bags distributed at grocery stores and the large blue recycling bags, plus large dark garbage bags are recyclable at our convenience centers, commonly called “dumps.”  

“Often, well-meaning folks put their recyclable materials into a plastic bag and throw the whole thing into the recycling bin. We understand that the thin plastic bags ‘gum up’ the machinery in the facility where the majority of Haywood County recycling is taken, causing big problems,” noted Kathy Odvody, board member of EAC. “That facility had to hire additional staff just to empty the light-colored plastic bags whose contents can be seen for recycling. All those bags are sent back to Haywood County landfills. If the recyclables arrive in one of the blue recycling bags or other darkly colored plastic garbage bags, then the bag AND all the contents are automatically sent back to Haywood County because the company does not want to take a chance on what might be in the dark bags that could affect their employees.”

Not only do the plastic bags take up expensive landfill space, they break down into microplastics that release toxic chemicals into our food, water and the air we breathe. Plastic production now has grown to more than 380 million tons per year. More plastic has been produced in the last ten years than in the entire 20th century, and the industry plans to grow explosively for the indefinite future. Many plastic bags have a working life of a few minutes, followed by an afterlife of centuries.

One of EAC’s major projects, Bring Your Own Bag Haywood, converts the heavy-duty feed and seed sacks that are donated to the group into waterproof, reusable bags that hold a large amount of groceries without tearing and last for years. Donated fabric is repurposed into bags, aprons, wine totes, napkins, and other goods. These items will be sold at “The Whole Bloomin’ Thing” in Frog Level on Saturday, May 11, as well as other community events.

The theme of this year’s Earth Day is “Planet vs Plastics,” and the EAC has information displayed in both the Waynesville and Canton libraries. Coming very soon is a chance to participate in a raffle to win an electric vehicle which will be a major fundraising event for the organization.

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For more information on the Environmental Action Community and how you can help, please visit the website at: www.eacwnc.org.

Laura Armour


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