Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Say No to Plastic Waste Today!

On Saturday, Sven and I finally were able to get away to spend an hour on the beach, a first in a number of days. We walked up to Marconi, at low tide. The waves crested further out than usual and were still powerful, a reminder that Earl had moved out to sea. They charged way up the beach, sucking at our ankles. It was the type of day that makes you draw in breath and think, how lucky I am to be alive! Suddenly an object, fluttering just beyond our range of vision, caught my eye. A man at the foot of the dune had noticed it, too. He pointed up, towards the remnants of the Marconi Station. “What’s that?” the man shouted.

I turned to look.

“A plastic bag,” I replied. “It shouldn’t be there.”

“Plastic bags do not belong in the environment,” the man said, shaking his head.

The three of us stood there together, for a couple minutes, watching to see if the bag would break free. It had become stuck on something and flapped in the breeze. The location was too far up the dune for retrieval. I was reminded of the brilliant video created by Heal the Bay for the recent ban-the-bag campaign in California. The text is read by Jeremy Irons. Sven and I returned yesterday but the bag was gone. It probably broke loose and ended up being washed out to sea ...

Plastic bags choke our oceans, killing wildlife. Plastic bags disintegrate and get swallowed by fish and birds. We consume the fish, therefore, we eat plastic. Plastic is made of petro-chemicals. Human beings, fish, and birds are not meant to ingest petro-chemicals. This seems evident and yet nothing is being done to prevent gyres in our oceans, no anti-litter campaign has yet been initiated world-wide. Individuals like myself, and Beth Terry at Fake Plastic Fish, do their best to spread the word, but then something happens which sets us back. Environmental progress gets stymied, as it did last week in California where the bill to ban single-use plastic bags was defeated through lobbying efforts by the American Chemical Council, which spent $242,000 in support of plastic bags and BPA in products for infants. How distressing to have self-serving interests intervene this way! Watch this video and realize the scope of the problem. I recently was heartened to learn the United Nations Environmental Officer, Michael Stanley-Jones, plans to raise awareness of the hazards of plastic in our oceans. We all need to become stewards of the environment. When a clerk hands you a plastic bag, refuse it. I regularly thank clerks for asking whether I'm going bag-less or not. What are you doing to decrease the plastic waste in your life?