Here's the (now) annual report of plastic bag usage for the year, courtesy of reusablebags.com. The numbers change too fast for the eye to take in, and there are 14 hours left of 2007. Over 1 million plastic bags are being used per minute! Is there good news? As we see more petroleum go into landfills, via the plastic bag waste (those that aren't flying through the air or forming huge masses in the Pacific Ocean)...is there any good news? As usual, there's goodnews/badnews. The progressive growth of packaging and overpackaging seems to rise inexorably. China (and all manufacturers): and WalMart (and all sources of retail goods that put cheap above sustainable quality): change! We are ready to take more responsibility for the Earth, but we need your help.
Where's the good news? More ways to recycle (and freecycle); more stores offering reusable bags at next to no cost (Shaws sells cloth bags at $1.00 each!); a new understanding of the plastic bottle problem, leading to a major campaign in New York City, for instance, to put tap water in reusable bottles.
At VitaSource, we have been very successful at selling water bottles -- stainless steel and polycarbonate (yes, each of those has many questions too, but it's an important step). At the store, customer donated bags, both plastic and paper, have replaced all new bag purchases, giving them a few more times around for reuse before they end up in (thank you) supermarket recycling bins. Still, I hope to see many more cloth bags in hand in 2008.
Doesn't it all tie together? All the little homely things we can do at the bottom of the pyramid creating the energy for municipalities and nations, giant retailers and manufacturers to make the changes for less burden on this energy-exhausted world? 2008: lots of work to do on alternative energy sources, saving soil and water to build health all over the world...the least we can do as individuals is reduce use of plastic, especially bags and bottles, choose organics to support the growth of a healthier use of resources, and more honesty -- personally, interpersonally, nationally, globally.
PS Just one more plug -- a simple way you can support recycling, literacy and libraries: buy used books from BetterWorld (with free shipping in the US). Good folks!