CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County Public Library System is going green by ending its distribution of plastic bags at the 16 branch libraries.
Spokeswoman Natalie Hauff said the CCPL received a $6,400 grant through the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program to purchase reusable bags.
"This was a no-brainer for us, especially with the support of the Foundation and NOAA in purchasing the reusable bags," said CCPL Deputy Director Jim McQueen. "We are so excited about this collaboration and the potential impact CCPL may have in combating the growing pollution of plastics in our marine environment."
McQueen said they use a total of roughly 20,000 plastic bags per year at the libraries.
"[It was] just as a convenience for people," he said. "If they were carrying multiple items, we would sometimes offer them a plastic bag or they would ask for a plastic bag."
CCPL will host a kickoff event June 8 on World Oceans Day at the John's Island Regional branch (3531 Maybank Highway). Representatives from NOAA's Marine Debris Program will be there from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to give information about marine pollution.
"I think a lot of people are already aware of the impact plastic has on the environment," McQueen said.
A total of 3,700 free reusable bags will be available at the 16 library branches in the next few weeks, while supplies last.
"It's better for the environment, so it's a wonderful decision," said Wendy Gibson, of Charleston.
"I usually stick them (books) in my purse," added Rebecca Stephenson.
For those who aren't able to get a bag, the libraries also sell other reusable bags for $2.
"Those proceeds all go back to the Friends of the Library to pay for our library programs that we offer," McQueen said.
McQueen added they sell about 600 of those bags every year and are hoping for more people to join in on the initiative for future generations.
"It's important," Stephenson said. "[Our kids are] our future so we want to make sure it's green for them and that they have a good place to live when they grow up as well."
According to NOAA, plastic materials degrade into small pieces until they can't be seen. Plastic has the potential to harm fish and other wildlife, and most commonly used plastics do not go away in the ocean.