Paper or plastic? One state bans plastic - FOX Carolina 21

Paper or plastic? One state bans plastic

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A shopper's groceries are placed in plastic bags at an Upstate Bi-Lo store. (File/FOX Carolina) A shopper's groceries are placed in plastic bags at an Upstate Bi-Lo store. (File/FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

After you shop around and go through the check-out line at grocery stores, shoppers may hear the words "plastic or paper."

For some shoppers at the BI-LO grocery store on Pelham Road in Greenville County, it's all about options.

"When I was growing up, that's all we had was paper and it was easy because you could store stuff in it," said Alli Byrd.

Byrd was shopping at the store Thursday afternoon and admits she usually doesn't pay attention to how her groceries are being bagged and walks out with plastic.

"You just think, OK, let me get my groceries home," she said.

However, lawmakers in the state of Hawaii are paying attention and decided to ban plastic bags because of toxins and plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean.

"The ocean debris ends up with killing about a million sea creatures per year and that's just from plastic bags," Education Program Manager J.C. Ward with Greenville County Soil and Water said.

Ward teaches about the environment and what she calls plastic bag waste. And although Hawaii is thousands of miles from the Upstate, she said plastic bag waste affects South Carolinians too.

"It does increase the toxin levels in the water and in the soil which is incredibly important for the growth of food and public recreation," she said.

That's why Bill Hildebrandt carries his reusable bag. He said he's had his bag for years and is concerned about plastic bag waste in landfills.

"I suspect they last a long time," he said.

Studies show a plastic bag found on the ground could take up to 20 years to degrade.

"The other option is a paper bag, and I'm worried about the trees," he said.

And as Traci Segura walked out with her re-usable bags, she called plastic bags a waste and inconvenient.

"You see them on the roadside, you see them blowing around on windy days, you see them sitting out in parking lots," she said.

Many shoppers said they support Hawaii's new law and the next time they hear paper or plastic, they'll think twice.

"I think more counties and more states should start doing that," Byrd said.

Charleston County, SC, has a yard waste plastic bag ban, and some counties along the North Carolina coast ban plastic bags at grocery stores too.

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