Is Your Life Too Plastic? Bag It
Posted October 15, 2012
The award winning documentary film Bag It comes to Delbarton on Tuesday, October 30 at 6:30 pm when the School will host a free screening in the Fine Arts Center theater. Bring friends, bring neighbors but whatever you do, do not bring single use plastic disposables if you know what's good for you.
The concept for Bag It started with one bag and one ordinary person ("I am not a treehugger") who wondered where all those plastic bags and bottles were going. What began as a movie about bags grew into a deeper look at plastics and their effect on our oceans, the land and even our bodies.The use of single-use disposables has led to the formation of an actual floating island of plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, GPGP for short.
Delbarton is trying to do its share. To discourage plastic water bottles the School issues each new student a reusable metal water bottle, and we have filling stations posted around campus. This month to highlight Bag It's message, Delbarton middle school science classes are making plastics and recycling posters for display in the FAC lobby. Seniors in Brian Theroux's Environmental Studies class are also promoting the movie and sharing tips like these on how to reduce wasteful plastics...
- Ask for less packaging (does ice cream really need its own bag?)
- Bring bags from home to pack your groceries
- Use refillable water bottles
- Recycle all plastics
- See Bag It at Delbarton on Tuesday, October 30 at 6:30 pm in the FAC
- Bring a friend.
A Teaching Moment
Let's focus on plastic bags for a moment. According to the Bag It website, it takes an estimated 12 million barrels of oil each year to make the plastic bags that Americans consume. In 2009 the US International Trade Commission reported that 102 billion plastic bags were used in the U.S. These bags, even when properly disposed of, are easily windblown and often land in waterways or on roadsides, degrading soil and water quality as they deteriorate. Their manufacture, transportation and disposal require large quantities of non-renewable resources. Throw them in an ocean and what do you get? GPGP. It's bigger than Texas...it's destroying the Pacific's marine ecosystem..It is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vast area of trashed ocean north of Hawaii. The GPGP is not new and scientists believe it is not alone. All that garbage had to go somewhere and ocean currents cause garbage to adhere to other debris creating enormous floating islands of trash.
The Atlantic surely has its own Garbage Patch. The Gulf Stream is part of a larger circle that flows from the Caribbean up the Atlantic Seaboard of the USA and Canada, then around the northern Atlantic to Western Europe, returning to the Caribbean after skimming past Northwest Africa. This is the outer part of the North Atlantic Gyre, an enormous vortex that covers thousands of square miles in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. (There is also a South Atlantic Gyre, North Pacific Gyre, South Pacific Gyre, and Indian Ocean Gyre. South of the equator gyres would spin counterclockwise, and those north of the equator would spin clockwise.)
The GPGP and other massive floating trash heaps have two major effects: they host tons of plastic and other waste that float on the water's surface, giving the sea and sun ample time break down their chemical make-up. Some plastics devolve into smaller, even miscroscopic pieces which eventually make their way into the food chain. We do not know the long-term impact of these substances as we habitually dispose of more and more plastic garbage.
Recycling plastic is good. Reducing the use of plastics is even better.
Larger pieces of floating trash also become home to many forms of sea life. We don't know how many plants and animals can use the various kinds of plastic as food or shelter, but life is creating little ecosystems among the litter. (Note that no marine creature has expressed an interest in using your plastic water bottle as a waterfront condo so please think twice about cracking that cap.)
Another big issue today is the declining health of sea life. Over-fishing, pollution, and climate changes have negatively affected life in the oceans, especially advanced life forms such as fish, birds and mammals like seals and whales. Thousands of species are already having a tough time adapting to the rapidly changing ocean. They certainly don't need your ice cream bag on top of their other problems, so just say no when the check out person offers to double bag your Cookie Dough I.C.
The dangers of so much single use disposable garbage may not be obvious to the ordinary person. Watching a thought-provoking movie like Bag It raises awareness and better habits are sure to follow.
So, is your life too plastic? Bag it on October 30th.