Oahu Push to Bag Plastic Hazards

Scott Wilson
Scott Wilson
Carolyn Borges
Carolyn Borges

MANOA (KHNL) - There's a movement on Oahu to ban plastic bags. Maui has already drawn up a bill to do just that, and now Oahu is following the Valley Isle's lead.

In an effort to open people up to the idea of banning plastic bags throughout the state, preservation group Malama O Manoa has created an environmentally-friendly bag called an eco-tote.

"This is an industrial product. It's a recycled plastic, it's called officially woven polypropylene," says Scott Wilson, the president of Malama O Manoa.

It's the same material tarps are made of. Malama O Manoa's inspiration comes from Ireland's reusable shopping bag.

"We found someone who could make it for us and we said let's put our own Manoa design on this bag and sell it," said Wilson.

One Manoa store carries the $5 eco-totes, which are sturdy enough to hold up to 25 pounds. Carolyn Borges, the owner of Tom Terrific's Copy Center, says they're a hot item.

"We started with 150 and we're down to about 25 now," said Borges.

And that's just in two weeks.

"I had one gal come in and she's going to make them her wedding favors," said Borges.

The push for eco-totes started at Manoa Stream. Volunteers clean the stream every year and they often find plastic bags in the water. Malama O Manoa says it's an environmental problem that needs to be addressed.

"It's killing off our stream and the wildlife in our oceans," said Wilson.

Malama O Manoa hopes to avoid adding to a vortex of toxic plastic trash, twice the size of Texas, found in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and San Francisco. The vortex is dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and is threatening sea life.

With the use of eco-totes, members of Malama O Manoa hope their message to break the habit of using plastic bags and minimize pollution becomes crystal clear.

Out of 5,000 eco-totes, only 1,000 are left. Unless there's a huge demand, the group does not plan to make more. Malama O Manoa says this is just a one-time project meant to raise awareness at the group's Eco-Fair held two weeks ago. Members say their intention with the eco-totes is not to make a profit, but to spread the word about a plastic bag ban.