Have you seen the plastic Bag Monster? I see it all over the place. Blowing down the street, clogging the gutter, floating in Lake Merritt, and even hiding in my own kitchen. I shot this quick footage of a Bag Monster battle taking place on the steps of SF City Hall last November:
But seriously. I’ve written about plastic bags before, and I think that most folks reading this blog already have strong opinions about them. But recently, I’ve come across some stories on the web that sum up the problems of plastic bags eloquently and comprehensively, and I’d like to share them with you, as well as a story of a guy who’s out busting the bag monster in a way that’s humorous and attention-getting.
The first story is Plastic Bags Are Killing Us from Salon.com. It was forwarded to me by Green Mary, a woman I plan to write more about later. This article starts near my home with a description of a group fishing plastic bags out of Lake Merritt and goes on to give a terrific summary of the arguments against plastic bags as well counter-arguments and rebuttals. (Sound like a California election guide?) The video on the second page is worth watching, as a San Francisco recycling expert explains why plastic bags are such a problem in the recycling stream.
The next story is Paper or Plastic, a 5-minute radio piece from KQED, which was forwarded to me by an intern at the station. About the San Francisco plastic bag ban, it covers some of the same territory as the Salon piece with a cool interview a little over halfway through with Professor William Rathje, an archaeologist of garbage (garbologist) discussing what happens to trash in a landfill and why plastic bags are a blessing and a curse.
Benn Davenport is a Bag Monster Buster. On the site, BagMonsterBusters.com, he uses humor to inspire readers to “adopt a healthy reusable bag habit and support sensible bag laws that improve environmental health.” In an email to me, he described his hopes and goals: I want people to laugh as we learn how to improve the environment, and most of all, I want people to feel hopeful and empowered! We can make all the change we desire in the world, and we’ll be more successful with smiles on our faces.”
I appreciate Benn’s attitude. He works for ChicoBags, a company that makes reusable nylon tote bags that fold up into a little pouch for easy carrying. Personally, I probably wouldn’t buy ChicoBags because I’d rather use bags made from natural fibers. Benn’s response is, “I understand and agree with how you feel about ChicoBags but keep in mind the company’s goal is to help ‘mainstream’ people kick the single-use bag habit by providing a bag [they] can bring with them anywhere. A bag that helps to create a consistent reusable bag habit.” Another example of the shades of green.
And BagMonsterBusters.com is a great resource for anyone looking for further information on the plastic bag issue. Benn is keeping up with many different bag ban campaigns as well as posting as much info as he can get his hands on about plastic bags. Many cities throughout the world have either taken steps or are considering measures to lessen the impact of plastic bags. Is anything happening in your neck of the woods? And if not, why not? And what can you do about it?
Here are a couple of tools you can use personally from Green Sangha, a group I belong to. The first flyer, Don’t Think About A Plastic Bag, is a PDF document that can be printed and given to anyone who has questions about the issue. And for those moments at the cash register when the clerk starts to bag your groceries in a plastic bag, you can kindly refuse the bag and hand him/her this smaller flyer, Why I Don’t Use Plastic Bags.
What other ideas do you have about decreasing the presence of plastic bags where you live?