Tybee makes trash bags free

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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. - Trash bag dispensers have been installed at public dune crossovers at this popular Georgia coast vacation spot to reduce litter.

The Tybee Beautification Association received a grant from Keep Georgia Beautiful and extra help from local sponsors to install the 27 trash bag dispensers, most of which were in place by May 10. Previously there were free trash bags for cigarette butts only.

The new trash bags are larger and made from recycled, degradable plastic. Sunlight and moisture will cause the bags to break down in about four months, said Chris Freeman, a co-chair of the association's litter committee.

The bags are black so they won't look like an appealing jellyfish to hungry sea turtles if the trash bags blow into the water, Freeman said.

Tybee officials also have vowed to enforce the litter law more strictly - fines reach up to $1,000.

Keeping beaches clean has been a concern of coastline authorities, who have tried to develop ways to reduce beach litter.

A program that began in 2005 in Hawaii allowed beverage containers to be redeemed for a nickel each. The state reported short-term progress that year - the September 2005 "Get the Drift and Bag It" beach cleanup reported picking up about a third fewer beverage containers than the year before and 17 percent less litter overall.

Debra Miranda, visiting Tybee Island from Douglasville, Ga., with her husband and three sons said the island seemed dirtier to her than when she visited about nine years ago. By noon her litter bag bulged with candy wrappers that easily could have otherwise flown away in the breeze.

But Wren Lawrence, who runs North Beach Rentals, still picks up a wheelbarrow-full of trash daily from Tybee's beaches. She said she didn't think many people have noticed the free trash bags yet.

She said if the newly offered trash bags themselves don't become litter, she's all for them.

"People are pretty dirty down here," Ms. Lawrence said.


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