Tourism Council to educate visitors about bag ban

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 9:30am
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The members of the Block Island Tourism Council expressed some concern that the many thousands of visitors who come to the island during the summer season may not be aware of the exact details of the local ordinance banning single-use plastic bags and felt an education campaign of some sort might be in order to clear up any confusion.

Members of the Tourism Council, at their most recent meeting, acknowledged that during the conversation to the lead-up on the vote to ban the bags that there was an unknowable number of single-use bags coming to the island by boat, plane, or car, even though local stores can no longer hand them out. 

Tourism Council member John Cullen, who is a retailer on the island, broached the subject of whether the Tourism Council should do some sort of campaign to remind island visitors about the ban before the summer season begins. He also mentioned that some people collect the bags and repurpose them for a variety of uses.

“Do we find a way to inform our visitors that this [the ban] has even happened?” Cullen asked the members of the Council. “But how do we do this without preaching?” Given that people have saved bags at home, a natural question to ask was, Cullen said, “What do I do with them? Throw them all away? There are a lot of people who have a lot of bags.” 

Council Chair Zena Clark said the goal would be to “educate the people that come over here, but educate them in a positive way.”

“We’ve already started leading by example, but it’s not a bad idea to see how we can build on that,” said member Logan Chase. Other members agreed, saying the ultimate goal would be to eliminate the bags entirely. “Maybe we can partner with conservancy organizations,” said Chase.

“There seems to be a lot of things about this that are not well understood,” said Cullen.

Tourism Director Jessica Willi said the subject was also something she could talk about at the various tourism shows she attends throughout the year.

New member needed

The Council is also looking for a new member due to the recent resignation of Sven Risom, who assumed the seat on the Town Council that was opened by the recent passing of Second Warden Norris Pike.

“He needs to dedicate his time to that,” said Cullen.

“That’s a big commitment,” said member Steve Filippi.

“He’ll be great,” said Cullen. “He’ll bring a lot of energy and conviction. It happened under sad circumstances, but I’m happy for him. He’s a good guy and he’ll be great for the community.”

Anyone interested in serving on the Tourism Council can send a letter of interest addressed to the Town Council, which can be mailed or dropped off at Town Hall. 

John saves Christmas!

The members also expressed their gratitude, tongue somewhat in cheek, to Cullen, who has overseen the putting up of the Christmas tree on the lawn of the Harbor Church for many years. The annual lighting was held in early December.

“It went great,” said Willi. “It was a great, great night. There were tons of people, lots of kids running around.”

“It’s always a little frustrating and stressful, but when the kids come out it’s all worth it,” said Cullen.

“John saves Christmas, once again,” said Chase.