We’ve become immune to garbage. Not entertainment-wise, we eat that shit up. But literally, trash, disposables, yucky, messy stuff on the street – it’s just all part of the landscape for us. And a massive constituent part of this daily mountain is the ubiquitous plastic bag. I see them everywhere blowing in the wind, stuck in the gutter (or on my shoe). They’ve taken over like some otherworldly invasive species. That’s it. (The aliens are taking over our planet. Maybe they have something to do with Snooki too… ).
Our forefathers really screwed with us. They gave us this perfect but totally selfish world to live in. I’d like to give a big shout out to Thomas Cole and thank him for shoving romanticism up America’s ass, literally representing the rebellious reaction of idealists to the scientific rationalization of nature and it’s limits. You know that cliché less is more? Well, honestly, when was the last time you put that into affect? When you got seconds and scraped the uneaten chunk of it into the trash? Or when you dried your hands with a paper towel and then took another one to wipe the counter and another for a napkin or…? Yeah…about that….
We Americans haven’t really absorbed that motto into our daily activities. As an admitted country-of excess we have plastic dispensing fast-food chains on every corner and thousands of waste-generating shopping malls across the nation. We hardly second guess the plastic take-out bags, shopping bags, grocery bags, garbage bags, sandwich bags that are used repeatedly in our daily activities. It takes over 1000 years for one polyethylene bag to decompose. How many do we each of us use and toss every week?
In the South Pacific, there’s a mass of plastic floating in the ocean that is comparable in size to the state of Texas. It bears such charming nicknames as the “Asian Trash Trail,” “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” or “Trash Vortex.” The plastic chips from broken down plastic aren’t decomposing; they are just spreading through the water as time goes on. Anything the size of Texas (or Texas itself) that is threatening earth can’t be good In any case this conglomeration is a direct result of the world’s misuse of plastics. What happened before they were invented? We took our own shopping bags!
Since the original greedy gobblers of Westward Expansion began our lust for excess, we have continued to take and take economic and natural resources without really planning (or caring) about the consequences. Well the game is up. It’s time for individual entities to take some sort of earth-conscious action. Certain stores have taken a simple step to eliminate the use of plastic bags. THEY DO NOT PROVIDE THEM. In others reusable shopping bags are rewarded by a five cent refund for each bag brought in by the consumer. Ireland has enacted a Plastax on the use of plastic bags. Guess what? plastic bag consumption plummeted by 90 percent. The money collected from the tax was put towards an environmental fund, not in the pockets of the government.
Consumers can only benefit from the elimination of plastic bags by retailers. A cost is being removed and so far they haven’t found a way to charge the customer more for this service! China, many Euro countries, Canada, India, Bangladesh, Australia, Scotland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the UK are implementing, considering, or in the process of passing, taxes or bans on the use of plastic bags. Bangladesh banned bags when they reviewed the massive floods that occurred during 1988 and 1998. It was discovered that plastic bags were the main cause of flooding that spread over two-thirds of the city by being caught in drainage and sewage systems.
Throughout the Earth’s oceans marine lifeforms are ingesting plastics. There can’t be any such thing as organic wild-caught fish anymore. If they’re eating fossil fuel derivatives, they’re definitely not organic. (Plastics release toxins or POPs – persistent organic pollutants). When plastic pieces in the ocean outnumber the amount of plankton, it’s impossible to close our collective eyes and ignore the fact that the sea creatures we catch and enjoy aren’t toxic.
It’s just plain nonsense (even a collective sociopathy) to keep doing something once you realize it’s killing you and your neighbor. It’s really just a simple bad habit we need to break. A pattern we need to alter. After all it’s not addictive. We don’t get the shakes or sudden sweats when we stop. And there are other options. Paper bags to wean us off the habit for instance. Just until we can train ourselves to remember to take a shopping bag with us when we go shopping. Duh.
That extra plastic bag (double-baggers should be shot with shit) is going to end up in the landfill one way or another.
What is it that we don’t get. Concern that our effort won’t make a jot of difference. Nonsense. Just do your bit. And remember that you shouldn’t “let the perfect get in the way of the possible”.
I’d like to revive Thomas Cole’s dead ass and repaint our landscape today. After all what would one of his paintings look like with a plastic bag stuck in the branches of the autumn trees?