Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Life in Plastic

Trying to get through a day without using a plastic bag can, at first, seem like an impossible task. We use them to carry groceries home in, we use them as garbage bags, we take our lunch to work in them, bring them with us when we are walking our dogs in case they decide to poo on the sidewalk in front of Starbucks. In fact, it's hard to imagine life without the plastic bag, but we had better start imagining it fast because they are quite the environmental menace, both in their production (made from virgin petroleum) and in their absolute stickaroundness in our ever swelling landfills (they last 1,000 years.)

The best thing would be if everyone joined places like Leaf Rapids, Manitoba and San Francisco, California and banned plastic bags altogether. In the meantime, we could find alternatives in the situations where a plastic bag would normally be used. Canvas shopping bags instead of "double-bag-it", buying your bread from bakeries with paper bags, buying dry goods in bulk, reusing plastic bags you already have to get them home, and skipping on those produce plastic bags that give us the illusion of protecting our apples from the scary germs we think are on the checkout counter (really, people, that is probably the least offensive place those apples have been -- just give them a good wash at home.)

Plastic bag recycling is, or will be, available in some places, but they will be turned into things like plastic furniture, not more plastic bags, so it's really kind of pointless next to the option of not creating the bags in the first place. Recycling plastic bags will not put an end to the pollution that their creation causes.

So, the next time the grocery clerk asks you if you want a plastic bag, proudly lift up your nifty canvas bag and politely refuse, or I guess you could give them a dirty look, depending on your style.

For more info on Leaf Rapids' plastic bag ban, go to:


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