The Turtles and Trash exhibit at The Joe Center for the Arts is spawning something of a product line.
That might be carrying it away a mite, but after a campaign to do away with plastic straws launched just as the exhibit was opening last month, the Center is now providing another solution for the trash that ends up in the world’s oceans.
Canvas bags to replace those ubiquitous plastic shopping bags.
“The canvas bag was something to offer solutions to people when you are asking them to change their habits,” said Nancy Jones, a volunteer with the non-profit Center.
“I thought it was a great idea and just perfect with the show.”
The show, Turtles and Trash, is a blend of art and science, bringing a spotlight to the damage done daily to the world’s oceans; waters altogether by trash.
(As an aside, the show, which is free, is well worth a visit and there is a schedule of interactive activities. Regardless if you take in the ancillary events, the show alone is worth the visit to the Center during opening hours.)
Much like the paper straw campaign, which has discovered traction at several local establishments, the effort to cut down on plastic bag usage found purchase in observation, Jones said.
Jones was noting during a recent visit to a local retail store the number of items going into plastic bags.
She talked a bit with the store’s employee and owner about the costs and viability of replacing plastic with paper shopping bags, which they had researched and found out of reach.
Paper bags, it turned out, were more expensive than plastic.
But Jones had moved to Gulf County in the past 18 months and reusable shopping bags were already part of daily life.
Another volunteer with the Center, Irene Schmoller, joined the effort, bringing her expertise from the retail field in Arizona to the fore, undertaking to identify the appropriate canvas bag and subsequent ordering.
The Center provided the funding.
The bags are on sale at the Center for $15, with the Turtles and Trash exhibit logo on the side.
“We are selling them as part of the show,” Jones said. “We’re just trying to ask people to kick plastic bags, offering easy things to do to make a difference.
“One of the easiest and most impactful changes you can do to help the environment is to switch from plastic bags to reusable bags. They are modestly price, I think.”
Plastic bags are challenging to recycle, are lethal to wildlife and release toxic chemicals into the soil when buried in landfills, Jones said.
Plastic bags are one of the leading contributors to the plastic pollution of the oceans.
According to a 2015 study conducted by a scientific working group at the University of California at Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, every year eight million metric tons of plastic end up in the oceans.
That is equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world.
By 2025, that annual input is estimated to double, so the cumulative input for 2025 would nearly 20 times the eight million metric tons, 100 bags of plastic per foot of coastline in the world, according to the study.
Jones said the canvas bags on sale at The Joe are “roomy and nice, with a square bottom, easy to manage and easier to balance than a plastic bag.”
Turtles and Trash closes Aug. 23; the bags will be on sale at least until then, as long as they remain in stock.
“We’ll sell them until we run out,” Jones said.
And, if they sell out, Jones said, who knows, maybe another order.
All proceeds from the sale of the bags will benefit the non-profit The Joe Center for the Arts.
The Center is located at 201 Reid Ave.