ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. -- Jessica Gott loves the beach.
"Who doesn't," she laughed.
When not working, she participates in beach and river clean-ups and she leads the North Florida Coastal Caretakers. She finds lots of plastic bags on the beach.
"Oh, all the time," she nodded.
And those bags harm wildlife.
"They’re fatal to marine life and birds because they can’t digest the plastic," Gott noted.
Her group and Attorney Jane West have teamed up to spearhead an effort to ban plastic bags in St. Augustine Beach at retail stores. The idea was prompted by their own "frustration over picking up an ever increasing amount of trash on the beach," West said.
West is drafting a proposed ordinance that would phase-in a ban of plastic bags at St. Augustine Beach stores. She plans to take it to the city commission in September.
"Eventually we’d like to see it expand to the city of St. Augustine and to St. Johns County," West added.
In Florida, there is a ban against banning plastic bags. In 2010, the state issued the ban on banning plastic bags, West explained. The Department of Environmental Protection was ordered to do studies and make recommendations. "They never did," West added.
So, tired of waiting, Coral Gables took action this year.
"The City of Coral Gables implemented a bag ban, and yes, it is being challenged in court. However, the 3rd DCA they won. And so on the footsteps of that victory, we’re hoping that other coastal communities ,like ours, can go ahead and get a bag ban passed," West explained.
West and Gott expect some people and retailers to fight them on this proposed bag ban. But Gott says beach clean-ups can only do so much.
"It’s more about changing people’s consumer habits and that’s what we’re trying to do with this bag ban.
Winn Dixie and Publix are the largest retail stores in St. Augustine Beach. First Coast News reached out to their corporate headquarters for a comment. As of Thursday night, we have not heard back.
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