29 August 2012

Buying single use bottled water is like driving a hummer

Several weeks ago the library showed the movie Bag It. I happened to be working at the time that they made an announcement that the movie would be playing downstairs. So I looked it up to see what it was about and was intrigued to find it was a documentary about plastic bags. So I promptly put it on hold to watch at a later date.

I sat down this afternoon ready for a nice documentary about plastic bags and ended up being completely enthralled. The movie really made me think. 

Here are some of the things I took away:

 "[grocery sacks] are a convenience for a couple of minutes, a couple of hours. And they remain an environmental burden for hundreds of years."  Are they really worth the convenience if we're going to be fighting them for that long? Sure they're "disposable" so throw them away, but where is "away"? And what does "disposable" really mean?

Because the process of actually recycling a lot of plastics is a messy obnoxious process many plastics that you and I recycle end up in asia where low wage employees cherry pick the things that can actual be recycled. The process to melt them back down is messy, toxic, dangerous, etc.

 There was more plastic produced from 2000-2010 than in the entire 20th century. Most of that plastic goes towards single use items that will end up in landfills or the ocean.

Plastic doesn't bio-degrade, it photo-degrades. Which means that the sun breaks it down and then fish mistake it for food.

It's estimated that plastic kills 100,000 marine animals each year.

Imagine if every morning your breakfast was a bowl of cereal and half the stuff in the bowl was little styrofoam pellets and half of it was cereal. That's what its like for some animals in some parts of the ocean.

BPA is really scary.

It's not about being against plastic. It's about being against stupid plastic--silly, stinking, toxic stuff.

Plastic is incredible stuff, but it's not supposed to end up in our oceans or our bodies.

Don't put plastics in your microwave.

Single use plastics are just instant garbage.

When you don't use a lot of plastics, you eat better.

As I was watching this fascinating documentary this afternoon I felt a little bit sick to my stomach to realize just how much plastic I use on a daily basis and how much I am contributing to environmental problems the world over. It makes me want to run out and never use plastic again. Of course that is a little bit unrealistic. Nearly everything in my life is made of plastic, from the bottles my shampoo is in to my toothbrush to my T pass. However, there are things that I can do. I am going to make a concerted effort to not use plastic grocery sacks (or any other plastic bags from stores) any more. I have reusable bags, why not use them?
 I also want to cut way back on single use disposables (things like bottled water, plastic cups, etc.) So, for this next week I am going to try to be single use free. The movie suggested going single use free for an entire day, just to become aware of your habits. But since I know I don't drink things like bottled water I'm going to try to be single use free for a whole week to get a better idea of where I'm using "disposable" plastics.


Melanie said...

I use my plastic disposible razors for a ridiculously long time, does that count! :)

Seriously though, I haven't seen the documentary but I agree with all that you wrote. I get so mad at my mom for buying cases and cases of water bottles when a Brita pitcher would do the same thing. After traveling abroad I also noticed how much more packaging US products use. In France cookies are packaged in a single foil wrapper; in the US we use a plastic tray and a paper or plastic wrapping. Unnecessary.

Also, I think that if I am going to be charged a bag tax (which is actually a helpful "push" to remember my reusable bags), grocery stores should incur some kind of penalty for giving me a three foot receipt when I purchase two items. What a waste of paper!

Emily said...

Sure it counts. If it means that over the course of a lifetime you'll use fewer then I say it counts.

We do have tons of packaging, and for non-food products it's super hard to open to. What's up with that?

How's the bag tax working out? I left about the time it started. Does it seem to reduce the number of bags people use?