Friday, August 10, 2007

Plastic bags are killing us

I read this piece on boing boing, about the scourge that is plastic; and in particular, plastic bags.

The problem with plastic bags isn't just where they end up, it's that they never seem to end. "All the plastic that has been made is still around in smaller and smaller pieces," says Stephanie Barger, executive director of the Earth Resource Foundation, which has undertaken a Campaign Against the Plastic Plague. Plastic doesn't biodegrade. That means unless they've been incinerated -- a noxious proposition -- every plastic bag you've ever used in your entire life, including all those bags that the newspaper arrives in on your doorstep, even on cloudless days when there isn't a sliver of a chance of rain, still exists in some form, even fragmented bits, and will exist long after you're dead.


Scary.

Some may cough this sort of journalism up to fear mongering, but the fact is I believe it.


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great Post!

This much we know is true. We all need to jump on the biodegradable bandwagon with bags that can be composted! (Like MEC)
I always try to remember to bring my cloth bags to the grocery store and when I forget I ask for paper!

I find it strange that when I go through the checkout in the supermarket they quickly say "plastic okay?" well no, no it is not!!

Reduce
Reuse
Recycle
Rethink

I know we as humans are not perfect but we need to make our best efforts to respect our only home!

JM

Lawrence said...

My sis sent me this link:

http://www.cleangreenbags.com/Alternative.htm

Billy said...

It's a darn good thing they DON'T biodegrade. If everything we used was biodegradable we'd be living in a giant soup of bacteria and nothing else. The problem is consumption overall. Plastic bags are the most benign solution to our consumption levels. Some excellent life cycle analysis of plastic vs other methods.
http://www.babble.com/content/printerfriendly/PrinterFriendly.aspx?ciid=222
http://www.ilea.org/index2.html
Again, I'm just happy that we're using plastic at this phenomenal rate of consupmtion vs anything else, including detergents for washing reusables.

Eric said...

Like Billy mentioned, it's much more complicated than 'plastic is bad' (however the concern over detergents for washing our cloth bags is a bit much!). Plastic is much more energy efficient to produce, transport, and recycle than paper, for example, making it a better choice than paper at the market. The *best* choice is/are durable bag(s) that can be reused and result in zero consumption of 'new' plastic or paper bags.

It's a difficult question, no doubt.

Billy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Billy said...

Eric, if they could recycle pvc plastic into beads we could use/reuse (trapped by a drain filter for reuse) in a washing machine as a permanent agent for cleaning clothes (like they use rocks in third world countries) as opposed to chemicals that get leeched out to our water systems, then we'd have it made. Entreprenuers feel free to steal the idea, I'm not proprietary. Using plastic as a solid is the best use for petroleum, as opposed to burning it. The only problem with plastic as far as I can see is that it's ugly, and eating it can gum up your system. That doesn't stop the makers of petroleum by-product cheese, sour cream, bacon bits and non-dairy cream products (just ask "Dairy-Queen" or McDonalds lol ).

btw, that Salon article was a rip-off of this.
http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/270/