Wednesday, January 09, 2008

China bans plastic bags -- when will we?

China's landfills are bursting at the seams and will be filled to capacity in 13 years, so their government has decided to ban plastic shopping bags, at least the flimsy plastic ones that blow everywhere and end up in trees. The Chinese are also trying to clean up their image before the Olympics, according to an AP story today.

Deep within the story, these facts caught my eye:
"In the United States, which has less than one-quarter of China's 1.3 billion people, the Sierra Club's Sierra magazine estimates almost 100 billion plastic bags are thrown out each year. The Sierra Club estimated that if every one of New York City's 8 million people used one less grocery bag per year, it would reduce waste by about 218,000 pounds."
Here in convenience-driven U$A, the citizens mindlessly wait for anything they purchase to be placed in a plastic bag which they may take home to eventually find its way to a landfill or allow to fly out the car window and escape to pollute and kill wildlife.

The Chinese until quite recently shopped with cloth bags and baskets. But the arrival of big box stores also brought the ubiquitous and deadly plastic bag. The Chinese went from a sustainable form of shopping to that of the robotic western consumerist style of wrap everything in plastic.

Using cloth shopping bags is one simple action that anybody can do. Take a stand against mindless consumption and switch to cloth bags.

The image above of the turtle attempting to ingest a plastic bag is lifted from this site in Australia. Try Googling for images of plastic bags in trees for and you will find gruesome images of dead animals remains filled with undigested plastic bags.


terra said...

I thought I was dreaming when I saw that headline... I'll write about it next week. (gotta spread the wealth)

Speaking of plastic bags, I called the City of Akron today about their requirement to bag recyclables. Their response was a cordial "sorry, that's how it has to be done." I explained that I'm trying to reduce the demand for plastics, but I would also like to recycle. That was puzzling for them. I also called Keep Akron Beautiful, and planted the seed in their heads, so hopefully we'll see some movement with this idea soon.

The truck that takes the recyclables squishes everything, just like the garbage truck. I don't get it...

Maybe if we get enough people to call with the same message, they'll realize that they should change policy.

microdot said...

I sawe this news item and I thought I was hallucinating! Very good news for the planet!
But, this isn't such an altruistic good guy move on the part of the retailers! Those bags cost money! It's a win/win situation!

Here in France, most major retailers have stopped using plastic bags in the last 2 years. We are back to using our straw carry alls and cotton net sacks.

If you really need a bag, a sturdy reusable sack is available for 10 centimes, all major grocery stores also sell reusable freezer bags as well.

The only down side I see in America regarding the use of bags in stores is the almost ritual position of the bag boys. When I was 12 years old in Detroit, I had a part time week end job as a bag boy at the local A&P Store.
The last time I was in Ohio, in November, I was in a Krogers and without thinking, I attempted to bag my own groceries and suddenly 2 senior citizens were scolding me because I was negatng their position....I had no idea!
I aplogized and joked with them as they bagged my groceries, but my heart broke as I realized that these old guys were depending on a part time job I had over 40 years ago as a teen, for extra change.

Village Green said...

I will call the City of Akron about the plastic bags. I do have quite a few non blue or clear plastic bags. I wonder if it is ok to use those?

Are you telling me that nothing is sorted before it is crushed? What kind of sense does that make?

And I would like to know where Akron's recyclables actually end up -- in China?

terra said...

Definitely use the non-blue and clear bags. I use any bag I have.

I've seen the recycle truck come by, and it loads the stuff in the truck and then presses it in, just like the garbage truck. Doesn't my glass stuff break through the thin plastic bag anyway? I also wonder if it's really recycled, or shipped to China.

I'm also going to write letters to the paper. That will educate people about using reusable bags, and encourage the city to reconsider their rule.


great week-end