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Grocery shopping goes green

  • Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Around the world, between four and five trillion plastic bags are used every year. Each one takes between 500 and 1,000 years to decompose. Many end up in our oceans threatening and destroying wildlife ecosystems.

A reusable grocery bag system – masterminded by a Kristin Brown, a local resident – is helping turn the tide. And Waccamaw Intermediate School is on board to promote the cause.

The school regularly embraces green initiatives as part of their educational objectives, and they’ve recently launched a program aimed at slicing the number of the environment-busting plastic bags. Their goal is to get parents and friends to download a smartphone APP that promotes the use of reusable shopping bags.

Here’s how the program works: The APP is available through Apple iTunes or Google Play. Search “My Eco Reuse.” Users log in with an e-mail address and then select the school to which they want to donate. When shopping, participants can go to Bi-Lo in Pawleys and Murrells Inlet, Walgreens and CVS at Pawleys Island, Harbor Specialties in the Hammock Shops, as well as Surf the Earth, Get Carried Away and Pawleys Island Supplies.

In the end, the process is easy. Scan a code at the register as you load your purchases into reusable bags. The APP estimates how many plastic bags were saved and makes a contribution to either Waccamaw Elementary or Waccamaw Intermediate.

The money that will go to the schools is courtesy of a grant from The Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation, which embraced the opportunity to create a program to encourage the community to reuse and shop with reusable bags “saying no to paper and plastic.”

The guiding principle is that people will be more inclined to make change when incentivized. When shoppers see they are making a difference – actually earning money for local schools – change is more likely to become permanent.

Over the next month, complementary activities will include:

• A plastic bag drive through April 11. Students are asked to engage in spirited competition to bring in all the plastic bags they can collect;

• On April 9, there will be a Waccamaw Elementary Rainbow Run where MY ECO will be educating students on reuse and recycling; and

• on April 16 - The total number of bags collected by competing teams will be announced. The bags will then be tied together and measured.

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