Saving our planet; one bag at a time

February 12, 2007

F*@k Plastic and change the world to a better place

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 1:58 pm

F*@k Plastic

A resident of Goshen Village in New York state has written a very thoughtful piece in the Chronicle.

Its so well written that I am reproducing it verbatim. Here goes:

Now that 2007 has arrived, there is one resolution you can make and stick to that will make a difference in the world. Though it may not seem possible (as some of these problems are daunting), there are some things we can do, a resolution you can make, that will make a difference. It is easy, cheap, and effective. And as each new person takes this on, the change we make will quickly add up.

First, here’s the problem:

In the U.S., an estimated 12,000,000 barrels of oil are required to produce the over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps the EPA estimates are consumed in the U.S. each year.

Retailers spend an estimated $4 billion on their plastic store bags, passing the cost on to consumers (approx. $10-15 per year per family).

In a landfill, plastic bags take hundreds of years to degrade into tiny bits. Since they are not biodegradable, they contaminate our soil and water. When they breakdown in our water systems, these small plastic particles also pose threats to marine life and contaminate our food supply.

A 2001 paper by Japanese researchers reported that plastic debris acts like a sponge for toxic chemicals, soaking up a million fold greater concentration of such deadly compounds as PCBs and DDE (a breakdown product of the notorious insecticide DDT).

About 100,000 whales, seals, turtles and other marine animals are killed by plastic bags each year worldwide, according to Planet Ark, an international environmental group.

Though plastic bags (such as those you take your groceries home in, those made from high density polyethylene) can be recycled, the majority of them are not. There is no adequate collection system in place (most stores do not provide collection bins and most municipalities do not accommodate them in their recycling programs). They either end up lining our highways, trees, or beaches, or they get included in our regular garbage.

An estimated 8 billion pounds of plastic bags, wraps and sacks enter the waste stream every year in the US alone, putting an unnecessary burden on our diminishing landfill space and causing air pollution if incinerated.

Plastic bag litter has become such an environmental problem that Ireland, Taiwan, South Africa, Australia, and Bangladesh have heavily taxed them or banned their use outright. Several other regions, including England and some U.S. cities, are considering similar actions.

Unquestionably, this is a real problem, one that has far reaching effects. There is, however, a simple solution: use reusable bags, whether cloth or nylon. It is easy, cheap, effective, and a resolution that is easy to keep; it’s simply a change of habit.

Most households use 10 or more plastic bags each week to pack their groceries in. Over a year, that’s over 500 plastic bags! If just 2,000 people use reusable bags the reduction in plastic bags will be over one million per year; so even a small number of people can make a big difference. As Margaret Mead so aptly said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

So do it! You can, you should, you owe it to your children, and you owe it to the world you’re part of.

Keith Roddey
Village of Goshen

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