Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bag It Documentary Overview


Bag It, a documentary I have now watched twice all about the plastic bag.The maker of the documentary is from a town in Colorado who was debating a ban on plastic bags, getting the guy thinking about the almighty plastic bag.

Many places in the world have banned plastic bags or charged a fee for them. In a town in Ireland a plastic bag costs $0.22 per bag, according to people there many people quit using them immediately after this fee was introduced! San Francisco was the first city in the USA to ban plastic bags, they first tried to institute a fee for them but the American Chemical Counsel sued and so they were left with banning the plastic bag. Seattle also proposed a bag tax which the ACC spent 1.4 mil fighting, the city spent 64k and the final vote was 53% to 47%, despite spending over a million more the ACC won by only 6%! We know that plastic bags are bad for our environment. It's not just cities banning or charging fees for Plastic Bags though, Whole Foods pledged to stop using plastic bags Earth day 2008.

Many wonder why plastic bags are such a problem. The ACC argues that paper bags are just as bad as plastic, stating they are heavier and use more fossil fuels to transport. According to Bag It, paper bags are recycled 10x more than plastic bags. Fact is plastic is the most pervasive ocean litter! Plastic photodegrades, or breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces but biodegrade. In some areas in the ocean there is more plastic than plankton at a 40:1 ratio, meaning marine life is consuming more plastic than food.

We consume over 500 billion plastic bags a year. These bags are defined as a single use disposable; did you hear that. Bags that are made with materials that photodegrade rather than biodegrade, are made using our non renewable fossil fuels, that will still be in our environment a hundred years from now, and they are made to be used only once! Dr. Erikson set sail in a boat made of recycled plastics to raise awareness of the problems created by our throw away society.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the most studied "garbage patch". It is here that plastic outweighs food 40:1. An Albatross sanctuary on Midway Atoll has always been a sign of problems in the ocean since the Albatross birds fly so far out for their prey. Every single dead bird on Midway Atoll has plastic in its system, even the babies are being fed plastics from their mothers. 5 tons of plastic has been brought to Midway Atoll by adult Albatross', this is but a fraction of what is in the ocean, where that 5 tons came from! All sea turtles in the United States are now listed as endangered, their stomachs are lined with plastics! Despite yearly trips to clean up the ocean by the US Coast Guard many believe we will never be able to repair the damage ALREADY done, 260 species have been proven to be affected due to mankinds irresponsible use of our resources and creation and widespread use of single use plastics.

Although the Bag It documentary was originally intended to just address plastic bags it evolved, as things do. The documentary maker went on to address many other things, a big one: Our Throughaway Culture. The Average American produces 1 ton of trash per year, yes this is PER PERSON! One man however managed to produce only 32 pounds in a year for him and his family! 300 mil disposable coffee cups are used daily! Styrofaom will be around longer than the Statue of David, so rethink using it! In the United States we are each responsible for 800 pounds of packaging used for our things. 2 million Plastic bottles are consumed in the US every 5 min! Disposable diapers account for up to 1 ton of waste per child.

During the documentary the maker found out his wife Anna was expecting their first child. This inspired him to look into health risks of chemicals and plastics. He found that in the USA the regulations of chemicals are weak. The European Reach program makes plastic companies test plastics and prove that they are safe prior to be sold for consumers use, in the US we must prove a chemical is dangerous to have it removed. Consider all the recalls of medicine that lawyers advertise along with their number so you can sue, obviously we don't have very high chemical regulations if all these chemicals were sold to us with numerous health effects, many later shown to cause deformities, death, or retardation.

The documentary maker did a body burden test. He went to a doctor to check levels in his body of certain foreign chemicals such as BPA and Phthlates. He had two body burden tests done. After doing the first for a base line the documentary maker went to a friends house and used a mix of common adult/baby/household products for a few days, then retested. The results of his 2nd test weren't good. His of BPA and Phthalates increased by 110x and 11x. BPA is frequently used in baby toys which they stick in their mouths! If you don't know the risks of these then please refer to my Chemerical post!

Before wrapping up the documentary he provided a list of things you can do to make a difference.
Use less disposable Items
Don't drink bottled water
Buy items with less packaging
Buy Used
Bring your own container
Reduce what you use/buy
Litter patrol

In addition to his list I am working on one of my own which will come out in another post, that will combine his advice and other peoples with plenty of my own! Thanks for reading!