• Kira Lichtenfeld

South Florida City Commission Says No to Plastic

Did you use any disposable plastics yesterday?

If you answered “no,” think more carefully about your day.

Did you grab an iced coffee at Starbucks in a plastic cup with a plastic lid and straw?

Perhaps you picked up school supplies at Target, and they were handed to you in a plastic bag?

Maybe you grabbed a plastic water bottle after practice?

When you toss each of these in the garbage, do you ever think about where they go or what their impact might be?

Your straw could end up, like so many others, in a sea turtle’s nose.

Your plastic bag could end up with dozens of others in the stomach of a beached whale.

Your plastic water bottle could wash up on a remote coastline melting out of arctic sea ice.

That straw, bag, and bottle that you used for only a few minutes was made to last forever and will never go away. But fish, marine mammals, and sea birds are not the only victims of plastic waste. When the plastic breaks down and is eaten by fish and shellfish, you may actually be consuming the contaminants that you casually tossed into the trash.

You have the power to help end this abuse of our environment. Simple actions like buying reusable cups and metal straws, bringing reusable bags when you go shopping, and bringing a refillable water bottle to practice may seem like small changes, but they add up to big results.

If you want to make a larger impact, you can reach out to your local government. It may sound scary, but I am a normal teenage girl, and here’s what I did:

Knowing that Oceana is doing amazing work to help our oceans, I reached out to the South Florida Campaign Manager to volunteer and became Oceana’s Boynton Beach representative. I began attending meetings where I was inspired by other teen volunteers and put together a plan of action.

Flash forward four months, and believe it or not, there I was standing in front of Boynton Beach Commissioner, Christina Romelus presenting an ordinance to ban the use of styrofoam on city property. Crazy, right?

Believe it or not, they listened to me. At the commission meeting on November 17, 2020, the commissioners were very supportive, and they authorized the drafting of an ordinance.

Making a difference is easier than you think. Don’t be intimidated just because you’re young. It’s great to use your metal straw and your Tervis, but when you can impact a whole town, that’s when things really start to change for the better.

Whether through Oceana or another organization, be bold, make the effort, and make a difference.

Special thanks to Boynton Beach's Sustainability Coordinator Rebecca Harvey and Commissioner Romelus for your support and the opportunity to make a difference in my community.

You can watch the November 17th commission meeting below.

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