Louisa Enright's Blog

Mainely Tipping Points

Posts Tagged ‘plastic chemicals

Interesting Information: BAG IT: Paper or Plastic?

with 2 comments

Interesting Information:  April 7, 2013

BAG IT:  Paper or Plastic?

Assuming I’m not carrying my own bags, I’ve never been sure which bag to ask for–paper or plastic.  I’ve read arguments for both.

After watching the 2010 documentary BAG IT,  I’m now sure.  Ask for PAPER.

Why?  Paper degrades in landfills, can be recycled, is often recycled already, and gets recycled/reused ten times more than plastic bags.

BAG IT explores the above question by using an everyday, normal “everyman” who is seeking an answer to the paper/plastic question.

Here’s a synopsis from the web site:

Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every five minutes–single-use disposable bags that we mindlessly throw away. But where is “away?”   Where do the bags and other plastics end up, and at what cost to our environment, marine life and human health? Bag It follows   “everyman” Jeb Berrier as he navigates our plastic world. Jeb is not a radical environmentalist, but an average American who decides  to take a closer look at our cultural love affair with plastics.  Jeb’s journey in this documentary film starts with simple questions:   Are plastic bags really necessary? What are plastic bags made from? What happens to plastic bags after they are discarded? Jeb looks  beyond plastic bags and discovers that virtually everything in modern society–from baby bottles, to sports equipment, to dental sealants, to personal care products–is made with plastic or contains potentially harmful chemical additives used in the plastic-making process.   When Jeb’s journey takes a personal twist, we see how our crazy-for-plastic world has finally caught up with us and what we can do about it.   Today. Right now.

Here are some of the ideas I took away from the movie:

Plastic bags were created to be thrown away, but they don’t go away.  Plastic doesn’t break down in land fills.  Much of today’s plastic finds its way into our oceans, the life blood of this planet, where it is creating huge, floating toxic soups that ocean critters are eating, and, then, dying.  If we eat these fish, we are getting some of the chemicals they have ingested.  We are bombarded all day long with chemicals.  Tiny amounts of these chemicals can cause endocrine system disruptions that have radical repercussions for us, especially around reproduction and cancer formation.  Chemicals are changing how our children are constructed.  The sperm counts in males is dropping dramatically these days.

Plastic bags came about through the concept of “disposable living.”  They are meant to be used once and thrown away.

Plastic bags are being banned across the world.  But, the American plastic industry is suing towns that try to create laws that ban plastic the shopping bags.  The American Chemistry Council leads this effort.

Bottled water is one of the biggest plastic problems in the environment.

We are using enormous amounts of energy creating new goods that we are sending on a one-way trip to a landfill.  Landfills are contaminating our groundwater.  So simplify.  Try to recycle, reuse, repurpose, or do without.

One of the biggest scams in recycling plastic is that while some of us separate our trash by the numbers on the bottom of the plastic, only Numbers 1 & 2 get recycled routinely.  The rest of the numbers just make us think something is being done with the rest of the plastic trash.

Start checking labels on all kinds of products, especially body-care products.  Many are oil based.

Our grandparents didn’t have all these products.

The movie promotes some steps each of us can take:

Cut back on single-use disposable products.

Don’t drink bottled water.

Bring your own container.

Remove packaging in stores.

Choose products with less packaging.

Buy used.

Buy less “stuff.”

Simplify your life.

Remember that nature solves problems.  If we are a problem, nature is certainly going to solve us.


Where am I on this journey?

The two oil-based plastic products I have not been able to let go of are plastic wrap and plastic bags.  So that’s my new goal.  I can use glass containers, use plates on top of bowls in the refrigerator, use cheese cloth to wrap produce, and so forth.  I’ll start by not buying new bags or new rolls of plastic.

I don’t use oil-based cosmetics.  I use a waxy natural lipstick, coconut oil for moisture, and don’t do all the skin foundation cosmetic stuff.  (Healthy vibrant skin comes from eating healthy, nutrient dense foods.)  I have natural shampoos and conditioners.  I use baking soda and salt, flavored with an essential oil of peppermint or lemon, for toothpaste.

I’ve been successful at not using aluminum foil, which is terribly toxic.  Parchment paper works fine for baking or topping a dish I’m taking somewhere.

I hardly ever use paper napkins or paper towels.  But I do, some.  The napkins are mostly for guests since they seem to panic if we don’t have them.  Bacon grease in the cast-iron frying pan is where I’m likely to use paper towels.  I could use newspaper…  I’ll try that.  And newspaper could also clean glass…  The rest of the cleaning could be done with rags.

But, there’s still toilet paper…

Anyway, I invite you to join me on this journey.  Do it for the children you love.