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Girl Scouts renew their push against plastic bags to Medina Council

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    Members of Girl Scout Troop 91646 pose with the Medina special legislation committee on Monday at City Hall. They are pictured with Councilmen Paul Rose, left, Eric Heffinger, Mayor Dennis Hanwell and Councilman Bill Lamb. The Girl Scouts are: Front row, from left: Farrah Holladay and Ruby Gabrielsen. Middle row, from left: Maxine Pettit, Lyndsay Moore and Sarah Welling. Back row, from left: Mia Spooner, Callie Fitchett, Olivia Kish and Julie Adams.

    PHOTO PROVIDED

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MEDINA — A group of environmentally conscious Girl Scouts has returned to City Council to again urge elected officials to pass legislation limiting the use of plastic bags in the city.

Medina Girl Scout Troop 91646, of Ella Canavan Elementary School, first stood at the podium to voice their concerns in October.

Many of the girls spoke out again Monday against the use of plastic bags at a special legislation committee meeting at City Hall.

They had asked the committee to adopt an ordinance against the use of the bags, as some communities have done.

“We knew that would never fly,” said At-Large Councilman Bill Lamb, chairman of the committee.

However, Lamb said the committee supports the Girl Scouts, who will visit several businesses on the square this summer and try to convince them to limit the use of plastic bags.

Troop leader Tracy Gabrielsen, a music teacher at Claggett Middle School, said the easiest way to support the Girl Scouts is to bring tote bags when you go shopping.

There are 11 girls in Troop 91646. They are all fourth-graders at Canavan.

They will ask businesses to put signs in their windows and bring awareness to their cause. The motto of the campaign will be, “Don’t be a drag. Bring your own bag.”

Ruby Gabrielsen, Tracy’s 10-year-old daughter, came up with the slogan.

The girls are working on trying to earn their bronze awards from Girl Scouts.

“It’s something that’s good for the community,” Tracy Gabrielsen said. “You’re supposed to spread the word for a cause. You need to identify a problem and work on changing it.”

She said the girls don’t understand why everyone doesn’t support the issue of reducing their footprint in the environment.

Tracy Gabrielsen said the Girl Scouts had a conference call with the mayor of McMinnville, Oregon, which banned the use of single-use plastic bags in retail establishments in 2017. According to legislation on the city’s website, businesses can provide recyclable paper bags to customers at a cost.

That’s not on the horizon in Medina for now, but the city is putting together a group to deal with sustainable issues such as plastic bags and what to do with all the disposable diapers piling up in landfills.

“We can begin to address (the bag issue) as a community,” Lamb said. “We want to limit single-use bags. That’s our goal.

“We will look at things that are better for the environment. We need to take care of the environment.”

Lamb said the average family uses 1,500 single-use bags a year. The life span of a single-use bag is 12 minutes.

He said it takes as long as 500 to 1,000 years for the bags to break down in landfills.

There are about 100 billion plastic bags used every year in the U.S., according to the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental advocacy group based in Tucson, Arizona.

“The plastic bag (issue) is so important to address,” Lamb said. “It’s addressable.”

Several area businesses have installed reusable bag containers, including Giant Eagle, Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, Buehler’s Fresh Foods and Lowe’s.

Beth Biggins-Ramer, district coordinator for the Medina County Solid Waste District, said many of the department stores are back-shipping pallets full of plastic bags to distribution centers. Many companies want to become more “green,” and have less of an impact on the environment.

As far as the waste district is concerned, she said it would prefer not to have plastic bags in the single-stream, dropoff material.

Biggins-Ramer said she is excited about the Girl Scouts’ conviction.

“We need more advocates,” she said. “We need another generation that cares.”

Contract reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.
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