As a coastal community, we need to be talking about the plastic crisis on a regular basis. This issue greatly affects our way of life here and the tourism that keeps many businesses running.
We all go to restaurants and stores that hand out single-use plastics that are easily blown onto the beach and into the Gulf. We visit the beach and find food wrappers and cigarette butts (yes, both contain plastics) carelessly left behind. Why aren’t we doing something about these issues?
The Emerald Coast, though a permanent home to us, is also a vacation destination that fuels our economy. We can't jeopardize tourism by continuing to encourage the use of single-use plastics and not holding those who litter, responsible. We need to be doing more to clean our beaches, reduce single-use plastics, and elect people who actually care for the place we are all blessed to call home.
Instead of a new dollar store, gas station, or storage facility we should be encouraging sustainable businesses to set up shop here. This can include zero-waste stores that promote refilling items like pantry staples, soaps, beverages, and more. We could incentivize cleaning up the beach – for every pound of litter you pick up, you get a free coffee from a local business. This not only encourages community volunteering but promotes local businesses. We need to add more opportunities for people to enjoy nature by adding dog-friendly walking paths, playgrounds for children, and green parks with native plants. We need to connect with nature in order to want to protect it. We also need to encourage and require established businesses to become more sustainable by eliminating single-use plastics and polystyrene while implementing green business practices. Let’s create a local sustainable sticker that businesses that meet set requirements get to display in their windows. The point is, we need to be encouraging environmentally responsible behavior.
Finally, we need our government to step up and take action. Matt Gaetz certainly isn't doing anything for our district. In fact, in 2017 he introduced legislation to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency! His voting record shows he was against the environmental advantages of the Build Back Better Act and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. He didn’t even bother to vote on the Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy Act of 2019. But thankfully we have a chance to turn the page and elect someone in November who does care - Rebekah Jones. A woman with a Master’s Degree in Science and a strong environmental platform. We need to make sure those representing us take care of our environment because it truly affects our economy and our way of life here on the Emerald Coast.
Letter submitted to Navarre Press on 10/10/2022