Guest Post by Kevin MacDonald
Beverly Bring Your Own Bag is an ad-hoc group working on educating Beverly communities on the effects of single use plastic, including ways to reduce our waste. Specifically, BBYOB advocates using reusable bags over single use plastic ones from stores. The effort began in 2017 when Brittney New and I started workings at Salem Sound Coastwatch’s internship. We were inspired by a 2016 project when another high school student successfully started Salem’s plastic bag reduction, that just went into effect in January 2018. Our small committee formed of teachers, artists, and concerned citizens formed into BBYOB when we decided to take the idea on for Beverly.
Since then our group members have presented to the City Council multiple times and hosted events for education. Some of these have been a free showing of the documentary Bag It at The Cabot, Tidal Shift, and Question & Answers with the Mayor.
Tidal Shift is a participatory community art project run by Claudia Paraschiv of Studioful Design making jellyfish out of plastic bags. Our goal of over 200 jellyfish will be suspended for Beverly Arts Festival over Ellis Square. During these workshops, we talk about how in the ocean sea turtles eat plastic bags as they resemble jellyfish. This is reasoning behind the project and helps expand onto other conversations between us and participants. Some of these have been how we haven’t always had plastic bags at our disposal. Or how they clog recycling units and need to shut down machines, be manually removed, and throwout. So far, we’ve done over 20 workshops with about 150 finished jellyfish made. We meet weekly at the Waring School Downtown on Cabot St from 5 to 7 pm, drop-ins welcome!
A year and a half ago, the state of California outlawed single-use plastic bags. Civilians and businesses “adjusted quickly” to the law, reported from LA Times. While there isn’t much environmental change to see there just yet, but Ireland also banned plastic bags ten years ago. NY Times said this made people switch over to reusable bags and “you never see plastic” after since having a fee on them six years prior to their ban. If our next door neighbor Salem and an entire island can adjust to the change, then we can too.
Important next steps
We’re excited the ordinance by City Councilor Estelle Rand is being presented to the rest of the council on May 21th. Following two weeks at their next meeting, they will vote on June 4th. Between now and then we are asking you to write to our city officials showing support of the ordinance. If anyone still has questions about any of our events or the ordinance, please message us on facebook.com/pg/BringYourOwnBagBeverly/.