Friday, January 14, 2011

This Week I Will Not Use Plastic Bags

I’ve been trying to figure out how to address the whole scary issue of plastics and break the issues down into manageable bits when a friend sent me a video on plastic bags. What a great place to start. Being environmentally conscious, I already keep an assortment of plastic, paper and cloth bags in my car for when I shop. But I don’t always remember to take them into the store. And I’m usually too lazy to go back to the car. Or, I go into the supermarket for a couple of things and remember to bring a bag, one bag - for what turns into a full cart.
I already know this is going to be a challenge because I’ve started to scope out the food possibilities for things that don’t come in plastic bags. Sounds simple? Try buying bread the kids will eat. Even so, my original plan was to buy no plastics at all for a week. No bags is way more manageable.

So, this week I will not accept or buy anything in a plastic bag. Also, I will not put anything in a baggie or Ziploc. This will reduce my plastic consumption and eliminate my contribution to the plastic bag refuse. (I want to disclose one exception I have to make. I have a very large dog to clean up after. I bought biodegradable bags with the hope that these are more environmentally friendly than Safeway bags.) I also won’t just opt for paper, since it’s no environmental bargain either (but that’s for another week). I’ll carry my veggies loose and bring previously used or reusable bags. I’ll even go back to the car when I forget!

Why Bother?
Most of us are pretty savvy about the problems with plastics sitting in our landfills. Many of us reject bags offered to us at stores. Even so, when I started looking into this issue I was surprised at how huge and detrimental the problem really is. The good news is that it’s within our power to fix it.
  • Plastic bags aren’t biodegradable. They go through a process called photodegradation—breaking down into smaller toxic particles that contaminate soil and water, and enter the food chain when animals ingest them.
  • Over 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year.
  • According to various estimates, Taiwan consumes 20 billion plastic bags (900 per person), Japan consumes 300 billion bags (300 per person), and Australia consumes 6.9 billion plastic bags (326 per person) each year.
  • A single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.
  • Hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine mammals die every year after eating discarded plastic bags they mistake for food.
  • Plastic bags are almost everywhere from Spitsbergen 78° North [latitude] to Falklands 51° South [latitude]
  • Plastic bags litter has even become commonplace in Antarctica and other remote areas.
  • Ireland, Taiwan, South Africa, Australia, and Bangladesh have heavily taxed plastic bags or banned their use outright.

Awesome Plastic Rap Video
Good Video
Good Article
Good Website

“Tikkun Olam” means, in its most basic form, repairing the world. It is an ancient term from long before we worried about carbon emissions or mercury in our fish. It promotes the idea that we are the stewards of our planet and we that must be constant and vigilant in our responsibility. And not only must we take care of the Earth and seas and creatures, but we have to fix what is broken. And this is our job for as long as we are on this planet

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