1 Cup of Love

1 Tbls of Creativity

A Dash of Eco-friendliness

Servings: The Whole Universe

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Paper or Plastic? Neither If You Ask Me!

On Saturday July 17th, FLV had our first Documentary & Dinner Night.  The featured film was called "Bag It".  And let me tell you, it was definitely an eye opener!  I mean I already knew the detrimental effects of plastic bags and plastic in general (thus the reason why I stopped receiving plastic bags when shopping and the reason why Andrik's toys consist mainly of wood) but watching this movie solidifies my support in doing my best not to buy plastic items.  But what do you do when EVERYTHING is practically made, wrapped and sealed in plastic?  Just witness this, the next time you step foot in a grocery store, try to find how many items that do not consist of plastic - it will be very slim, trust me.  It is literally discouraging seeing every aisle plastered in this stuff.  But I do my best to buy as many items as I can that don't consist of plastic (which at times can be challenging) but like I said I do my best and I do my part to stay committed to being more sustainable and health conscious.

Here's the trailer to the movie that has inspired me to be an even more eco-friendly geek!

I was truly inspired by this documentary's message (as everyone else was that evening) and want to share it with the world!  But for now I'll share some interesting and appalling facts that I derived from the Bag It website and notes I wrote that evening:

  1. In the United States alone, an estimated 12 million barrels of oil is used annually to make the plastic bags that Americans consume. The United States International Trade Commission reported that 102 billion plastic bags were used in the U.S. in 2009. These bags often wind up in waterways or on the landscape, becoming eyesores and degrading water and soil as they break down into toxic bits. Their manufacture, transportation and disposal use large quantities of non-renewable resources and release equally large amounts of global-warming gases. Ecologically, hundreds of thousands of marine animals die every year when they eat plastic bags mistaken for food. 
  2.  Governments around the world have taken action to ban or restrict the use of plastic bags. In 2008, China banned the use of ultra-thin plastic bags, and it is estimated to have eliminated 40 billion bags in the first year. Ireland placed a fee on plastic bags and reportedly reduced consumption by 90%. 
  3.  Towns all over the United States are rising to the challenge and standing up to the oil, gas and plastic
    industries. San Francisco has banned plastic bags. Seattle has fought a hard fight to place a fee on single-use disposable plastic AND paper bags, only to be shut down by the American Chemistry Council, a group that profits greatly from the production of plastic bags. The ACC spends millions to combat anti-plastic bag campaigns.  In spite of this challenge, U.S. cities including Austin, Boston, New Haven, Portland, Phoenix and Annapolis are considering bag bans or fees.
  4. The production of plastic bags requires petroleum and often natural gas, both non-renewable resources that increase our dependency on foreign suppliers. Additionally, prospecting and drilling for these resources contributes to the destruction of fragile habitats and ecosystems around the world.
  5. Annual cost to US retailers alone is estimated at $4 billion.
  6. In a landfill, plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to degrade. As litter, they breakdown into tiny bits, contaminating our soil and water.
  7. When plastic bags break down, small plastic particles can pose threats to marine life and contaminate the food web. A 2001 paper by Japanese researchers reported that plastic debris acts like a sponge for toxic chemicals, soaking up a million fold greater concentration of such deadly compounds as PCBs and DDE (a breakdown product of the notorious insecticide DDT), than the surrounding seawater. These turn into toxic gut bombs for marine animals which frequently mistake these bits for food.  For more information and statistics, please visit Reuse It.
  8. Single-use disposables like water bottles, coffee cups, plastic utensils and take out containers make our lives more convenient. About 2,480,000 tons of plastic bottles and jars were disposed of in 2008 around the world.

    Unfortunately, plastic is not disposable and the use of these items leads to environmental degradation. After being disposed, plastic containers and water bottles get placed in overflowing landfills, clogged rivers, and our ocean. And when the plastics break down, they do not biodegrade. Instead they break down into fragments that contaminate our natural resources.
  9. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces about 4.4 lbs. of garbage every day. That’s 29 lbs. per week or 1,600 lbs. per year. The United States produces approximately 220 million tons of garbage each year. This is equivalent to burying more than 82,000 football fields six feet deep in compacted garbage. This amount of trash could cover the state of Texas two and half times and also fills enough trucks to form a line to the moon.
  10. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an area of the Pacific Ocean created by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. It's a plastic soup that in some areas has concentrations of plastic 40 times greater than that of plankton. That means there is 40 times more plastic than food for the marine animals to eat. Scientists estimate its size to be at least twice the area of Texas.

    80% of the plastic and trash that finds its way into our oceans comes from the land. It takes about five years for garbage from the west coast of the United States to make it to the gyre and about one year from Asia. Plastic debris in the ocean doesn't biodegrade. It photodegrades, meaning sunlight and water break it down to smaller and smaller pieces that are mistaken for food by fish, sea birds and marine mammals.
  11. BPA has the characteristics of estrogen, a hormone that determines sexual traits and is key in the development of brain function and nerve cells. Recent studies have linked BPA to breast and prostate cancer, enlargement of the prostate, early onset of puberty, hyperactivity in children, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
  12. Biologists studying BPA and phthalates are in agreement over the harmful effects of both chemicals. These chemicals are now proven to be toxic, endocrine-disrupting, hormone level-changing, and disease-causing. Do your best to avoid them by reading labels, using reusable containers and bottles, and seeking out BPA and phthalate-free products. 
  13. You can get further details on the above topics at Bag It Movie.
  14. Where does the plastic go beyond the blue bin?  And was the recycling logo created as a marketing strategy just so ACC (American Chemistry Council) can make more plastic products out of non-renewable resources?  Check out this link for further details.

    Here are a few more links to learn more about plastics and what others are doing to make a difference:
    1. The Story of Stuff
    2. B.E.A.C. H. (Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii)
    3. Ecology Center
    4. Cradle to Cradle and here's a link from TED TV with William McDonough
    5. 365 Days of Trash - one man's goal to not throw away trash for a whole year
    6. How Do You Bag It? - Another great post about the documentary from a blog called Attainable Sustainable. 
 As Jeb Berrier (the film's main character) asks, "Why would you make something out of a material that is going to last forever, and you're just going to throw it away?"


1. Reduce single use items 
2. Bring your own cloth shopping bags 
3. Bring your own stainless steel water bottle

4. Bring your own coffee mug (have you ever noticed that when people go to a coffee chain, they order their coffee and receive them in those coffee cups (which are LINED in plastic) and end up drinking the coffee at the coffee shop??  Then 20 minutes later, they discard the coffee cup and once again is a single use item back into the landfills and oceans.
5. Buy it used
6. Buy less stuff
7. Buy less cans and more bottled goods - did you know that canned food is lined in BPA?? But there is hope and at least several that have made the transition to BPA-FREE cans.

8. Volunteer for community clean up 

So the facts are pretty crazy (and this is just a taste of what facts were given in the movie).  I highly recommend this movie to everyone!!!  I feel the desire to spread and share this movie with all willing to watch and especially share it within the school system.  Hey if the ACC is trying to brainwash our children by adding it in the textbooks for schools (read more here),  then why can't we educate them with the truth!  Hmmm....perhaps I should propose this to the producers of this movie if they haven't already started doing.

So yes our very first Documentary and Dinner night was very enlightening and has actually brought alot more awareness to those present that night.  One of our FLVillager mamas has even gone grocery shopping and forgot her bags at home and just like Jeb in the movie, put all the groceries in the car without bags and brought it home.  Even myself (the eco-friendly freak that I am), am even more aware and no longer buy almond milk because of the plastic tops that they come in (which was a good point in the movie - since when did they start using those and why?  They poured perfectly fine without those dang plastic tops!).  Now I make homemade almond milk at home and not only is it way less sugar than the store bought versions, I feel good about knowing exactly what is in the milk and feel good that one less plastic top will be found in the carcass of an Albatross bird.

What are ways YOU can make a difference and stop using plastic?  Check out these links:

1. Green Guides - How To Avoid Plastic 
2.  The Good Human - 10 Ways to Reduce Plastic Consumption
3. Eco Child's Play - 10 Ways to Avoid Toxic Plastic