While this mockumentary about the life of a plastic bag, narrated by Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons, is based in humor – the overall tone is actually sad. Over 37 trillion plastic bags have already been consumed worldwide – and that’s only this year! They are used in every city in every country and the task of making a difference is daunting, but it’s an important one.
Traditional plastic bags NEVER disappear – they end up in trees, bushes, lakes, gutters, landfills and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Native Sun Owner Aaron Gottlieb did a presentation on this “floating landfill” last year and the facts are just devastating. The North Pacific Gyre creates a “toilet bowl” effect in the Pacific that spirals all of the pollution into one area now known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s estimated to be roughly the size of Texas and contain 3.5 million tons of trash including plastic bags, shoes, toys, wrappers, pacifiers, toothbrushes and more. Birds think the garbage is food so they peck at it, then it breaks down into smaller pieces that the fish eat, and then we eat the fish! You can learn more about this disturbing cycle at greatgarbagepatch.org.
We researched environmentally sensitive alternatives to plastic bags for years, and in 2007 found a 100% biodegradable “plastic” bag that breaks down when exposed to air, water and sunlight. This is the “plastic” bag you see at our registers now. We also use biodegradable bags in our produce and bulk departments, 100% recycled paper to go containers in the deli and corn plastic & recycled paper cups in our juice bar. We have recycling stations in our seating areas for customer use as well as in our office areas.
Personally, I always carry a reusable bag. We sell bags at Native Sun that fold up smaller than an apple that I can tuck away in my car or purse for the next time I need it. I even have an African hand-woven basket that I always look forward to using. I turn down plastic bags at gas stations and convenience stores when I can easily carry the one or two items I bought by hand. I’m especially perplexed when people put milk jugs, laundry detergent or soda packs with a handle into a bag because . . . it already has a handle!
What is your take on the plastic bag situation today? Any pet peeves that you’d like to share?