Councilwoman proposes plastic-bag challenge

While she’s not suggesting the city officially endorse the idea of banning the use of plastic bags, Marathon City Councilwoman Michelle Coldiron wants people to use them less.

Coldiron told the Keynoter she added a discussion item to this Tuesday’s council meeting agenda challenging Marathon residents to give up plastic bags for a year.

She said she was inspired by Marathon yoga instructor Amanda Minton, who had shared on Facebook what’s called the Better Bag Challenge and involves giving up single-use plastic bags.

The Better Bag Challenge was created by The Ocean Project, an organization that promotes lessening the use of the bags that often escape from garbage cans or are tossed as litter. In coastal communities like the Florida Keys, they can land in the ocean and harm sea creatures.

A state law enacted in 2008 prohibits local regulation of plastic bags and there have been attempts to modify the regulation ban that did not make headway, including bills introduced for the 2017 session of the Florida Legislature.

In Miami-Dade County, Coral Gables city commissioners approved an ordinance May 9 prohibiting the use of single-use carry-out plastic bags in the city. Previously, the Florida Retail Federation sued Coral Gables for banning Styrofoam. A judge ruled in the city’s favor, allowing the ban, after which the city targeted plastic bags.

“Marathon can’t do a ban like that because the litigation would bankrupt us,” Coldiron said. “But we did pass a resolution in 2015 supporting initiatives that lessen the impact of single-use bags. There are baby steps we can take while trying to move the Florida Legislature to ban them.”

Local groups like Florida Keys Green Living & Energy Education and the Middle Keys Action Network are both working on ways to encourage the use of reusable bags at local stores, she said.

Also Tuesday, Councilman John Bartus will suggest the city take a stance against Florida Power and Light’s plans to inject radioactive waste below the aquifers where South Florida gets its drinking water.

FPL has plans to dispose of millions of gallons of wastewater in wells deep underground at its Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Homestead. The wastewater is used for cooling two new reactors, which have yet to be built, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved of the plans for wastewater disposal in mid-July.

Bartus said the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority has taken a stance against it.

“I’m hoping we and other local governments will as well,” he said.

Tuesday’s City Council meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. at Marathon City Hall near mile marker 52, 9805 Overseas Highway oceanside.

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219