Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Paper, plastic, or neither?

This post is under a

p Preachiness Alert p

because I just may begin ranting ...

So, as part of my job, I sometimes have to write little stories for second and third graders. Yesterday, I was trying to think of a topic for a short expository piece, I hit National Geographic for Kids on the web. There were a bunch of videos about weird science topics. One video featured Edward Norton talking about plastic bags. Now, that sounded boring to me, and I didn't think any second or third graders would be interested in it, but Edward Norton has been one of my celebrity boyfriends for many years now, and so I decided to watch the video.
It turns out, plastic bags are both evil and fascinating. My colleague and I ended up writing our story about them, and here's what we learned:
  • As you probably know, plastic grocery bags can kill marine animals that become tangled in them or choke on them.
  • In some places, the ocean floor is completely covered with bags which have filled with water and sunk to the bottom.
  • Plastic bags photodegrade into tiny toxic pieces. There are parts of the oceans where there are more of these toxic bits than food for marine life.
  • Off the coast of California, a swirling mass of plastic bags has converged where several currents come together. This mass is TWICE THE SIZE OF TEXAS.
  • In Africa, so many plastic bags are flying around in the wind that people "harvest" them and turn them into baskets and ... more bags (which at least recycles them!)

Now, those cute re-usable bags that have been popping up everywhere seem more urgent than before.

Coming up: Some other things you can do to reduce dependence on these "insidious tumbleweeds" (as Mr. Edward Norton referred to plastic garbage bags.) Also, a product review of the type of bag I use, guaranteed to put the chic back in "eco-chic" - if that's even a term. I'm not sure it is.

1 comment:

Tori said...

It's amazing how many of these things we go through!

This site has a plastic bag counter and more information about plastic bags.

This is one area where we can definitely all make a difference!