Father and daughter want plastic bags banned in Lee County

A father and daughter are working to convince a commissioner board to approve a local project to protect the environment.

Ella Thiele and DJ Thiele started a grassroots campaign to ban plastic bags across Lee County.

“We live here; we play here; we work here, and it’s time to make a change,” DJ said. “I think it’s time right now.”

A plastic straw ban is already in the county on Sanibel Island. Fort Myers also has a plastic straw ban, but there are no bans in place for bags anywhere in Lee County.

“I took this T-Shirt, and I just cut little vertical lines here so that it would be wide enough to put in your groceries,” Ella said.

Ella is in the seventh grade. She said she is tired of seeing the environment taken over by plastic, so she is making a change with her T-shirts.

“All you need to know is how to do the simple stitch,” Ella said.

Ella is transforming T-shirts into bags, a more reusable effort to limit plastic. She and her dad, DJ, are just beginning their movement to ban plastic bags in the county.

“When I was a kid, there were no plastic bags,” DJ said. “Now, plastic bags in the last 50 years have proliferated the area, showing up in the waterways and now showing up in the fish and food we eat.”

Inspired by cities like Coral Gables and Gainesville that have already banned single-use plastic bags, they hope to get county commissioners on board.

“Until we push the commissioners a little bit, I don’t think anything is going to happen,” DJ said.

It won’t be an easy process, since several groups oppose a ban.

“There are some groups out there that want to ban banning plastic bags in Florida,” DJ said. “And they put through some legislation.”

But local retailers like Bailey’s on Sanibel have already eliminated plastic bags in its stores and offer donations for reusable bags.

“Plastic is less expensive, and there is no question about it,” Bailey’s Manager Richard Johnson said. “But it’s not about what’s cheaper or what’s less expensive. It’s about what is the right thing to do. That’s why we encourage people to bring their own bags.”

A bill is also going through the state legislature right now that would ban the use of plastic straws and single-use plastic bags.

WINK News contacted Lee County board of commissioners, who said there is no plan for a ban for plastic bags anytime soon.

Ella said she plans to keep fighting for her idea and movement, so it will spread and gain continued support.

“It’s a very important thing for me,” Ella said.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
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