Is your life too plastic? That’s the question the documentary Bag It keeps asking. I watched it months ago and I have to say, it changed the way I see things.
I have to confess that I couldn’t care less about the environment before. When I moved to the U.S., I had the opportunity to read and see different things. I didn’t have access to Netflix in Brazil (now they finally have it!), so I’d just watch cable; and there were only TV shows, sitcoms or reality shows, never documentaries.
I think Bag It was the first documentary that had an impact on me. Plastic bags always annoyed me, but for the wrong reasons. I hated them because of the irritating clutter: thousands of bags stuck somewhere in the house. It never ended!
As I watched the movie, I began to realize that the problem was much deeper. According to it, Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every five minutes. After a short period of time, they throw them away without much thought. The question is: where is “away”? I found the answer later on. These disposable bags end up in a place that affects the environment, marine life and even human health.
Our trash ends up, obviously, in the ocean. There’s no magic; it doesn’t disappear. Now imagine millions of bottled water and disposable bags going to the trash every day. Still according to the documentary, two million plastic bottles are consumed in the U.S. every five minutes, and less than 25% are recycled. Note: a plastic bottle takes 1,000 years to decompose, while plastic bags take 100 year. So, yes, the debris can stay a long time in our oceans.
“But what’s wrong with that?”, some people might ask. In the decomposition process, the plastic is broken up into tiny pieces. Marine life thinks that these little things are plankton – fish food –, and there is 40 times more plastic than Plankton in some parts of the ocean. In this way plastic enters into our food chain. The largest ecosystem on Earth is in a place called North Pacific Gyre, located in the northern Pacific Ocean. This place is also known as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch because of its enormous quantity of plastic and other debris swirling around the gyre. It is so big that it’s believed to be more than twice the size of Texas.
Oh, and get this: it is estimated that 100,000 marine mammals and sea birds die each year from becoming entangled in or ingesting plastic debris. Yes, very very sad.
Here’s another huge concern. Plastic bags are made of fossil fuels, as petroleum and natural gas are, which are non-renewable resources. So one day this source will end and we, humans, will be miserable.
After all these things, should I say more to convince someone that reducing plastic use is good?
Okay, just one more thing. Plastic contains toxins that affect our bodies. It’s scientifically proved that things like BPA, substance found in plastic bottles and containers, affects the brain and the nervous system (causing depression and anxiety ); causes low sperm count and other diseases, like cancer.
We have enough reasons to get rid of plastic. Not completely, but let’s make sure to do our best to avoid the use of this material. Here are some tips to help you:
6 tips to reduce your plastic use:
1. Carry reusable shopping bags
When shopping (for groceries, clothes, or whatever), always carry a reusable bag with you. I always keep some in my car, this way I never forget them. I used to forget to bring my bags all the time, so I ended up buying new ones at the grocery store. So, yes, I have a lot of them. 😛
2. Ditch bottled water
You can help the environment in a very easy way. Just begin using a water jar with filter. It can be made of plastic, but be sure it is BPA free. We ditched bottled water nine months ago, I think. Believe me, you’ll save a lot of money too.
3. Choose milk in returnable glass bottles
Look for local dairies that provide milk in returnable glass bottles. I actually do this at Whole Foods. I just return the empty bottle and they give me U$1.50 back. I do this with heavy whipping cream too.
4. Buy from bulk bins
You can find rice, beans, and other dry foods from bulk bins. I know a few grocery stores that have that option and it’s great. It’s also cheaper, since you don’t have to pay for the packaging.
5. Avoid buying meat packed in plastic material
I recently began doing that. Now our meat is packed in paper.
6. Reuse plastic produce bags or make cloth ones
I have to confess that I need to work on that. I always forget to bring my plastic produce bags; I never throw them away so I can use them again. You can make cloth ones too, using old t-shirts.
If I kept going, my post would become a book! There are other things that you can do to reduce your plastic use; read, search and use your creativity to help you and your family, as well as the planet where you live. 🙂
Important announcement: we are on Facebook now! ‘Like’ our page to never miss a post 😀 The link is on the right side bar.