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November 16, 2018

5/9/2018 2:00:00 PM
Trash talk from Skagit County's plastic bag lady
SIGN UP FOR THE FUTURE – Carol Sullivan, a one person band beating her ban plastic bags drum, is seemingly everywhere. She was at the May 8 town council meeting. – Photo by Robin Carneen
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SIGN UP FOR THE FUTURE – Carol Sullivan, a one person band beating her ban plastic bags drum, is seemingly everywhere. She was at the May 8 town council meeting. – Photo by Robin Carneen

Robin Carneen

The Lincoln Theater teamed up with the Children’s Museum of Skagit County and Skagit Bag BANd Wagon’s Carol Sullivan to host screening the documentary “A Plastic Ocean” April 26. Sponsored by Skagit County’s Public Works Solid Waste Division and the Skagit Valley Food Co-op, the movie was free for the 300 attendees.
Before the movie started, a group of women took turns speaking from the stage. A backdrop of a blue whale diving was behind them. Carol Sullivan wore a necklace made out of plastic bags that she calls her “infinity scarf,” because plastic is forever.
Plastic in various forms, according to the movie, has not only compromised the health of the land in some cases, but now has become a dangerous entity that is harming sea life, bird life and human life. In one scene, a sea turtle mistakes floating plastic bags for a school of jellyfish and eats one. Even though worldwide plastic containers are marketed as a benefit and convenience, they last indefinitely. People, as consumers, need to be educated to change buying behaviors.
Recycling plastic is an option, but according to Sullivan, “how to recycle” needs to be explained better. She said, “look on the bottom of a take-out box container, or cup. Even if it has the ‘the chasing arrows’ recycling logo on it, it has to have one of the following numbers: 1, 2; or 5 (PET bottles, milk and detergent jugs and yogurt containers) to be considered recyclable. Without these numbers, Sullivan said, “when in doubt, throw it out!”. The number 2 plastic bags are not always recyclable, she said, though some local stores will take them if they are a specific kind of plastic bag.
Sullivan pointed out “half of the plastics produced now are produced to be used one time and thrown away … [they are] made out of a non-renewable resource … used for an average of 12 minutes.” She said, “plastic in and of itself is not bad, we use plastic in so many ways …. but it’s an addiction and a convenience that we did not realize was happening. It’s indestructible, it lasts forever …. it does not degrade, it does not break down – [for example] 500 million straws are used a day in the USA, enough to fill 125 school buses.”
Last year, Sullivan took a trip to China and saw that it was a clean country. She said, “China has banned plastic bags … in the first year that they banned them, they didn’t use 40 billion bags.” She said China no longer wants our recycled plastic.
With children, Sullivan has made cloth shopping bags out of T-shirts. She has given talks at 28 schools.
Her waste reduction sugges-tions include: use multiple use grocery bags – that you can make or buy – remembering to put them in your car; take your own mug to a coffee shop; recycle correctly; bring your own take out container for restaurant left overs; and “refuse to use if you can.”
Sullivan is attending municipal council meetings throughout Skagit County and is collecting signatures of support from adults and children, hoping that Skagit County communities will ban plastic bags all together. You can contact her through her Facebook page: Skagit Bag BANd Wagon or email her at: carolosully@yahoo.com.

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