Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bag it and Rise Above Plastics

So, I just came from a film screening of BAG IT * hosted by Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Island as part of a Rise Above Plastics event.

I've been concerned about the amount of plastic that shows up, well pretty much everywhere, so it's really heartwarming to know that others feel the same as I do and that they are making efforts to make a difference. It's mind-blowing to realize that plastic bags only came into popular usage in the mid '70's and in that short time they've had a disastrous impact on the planet. 

Now here's the fantastic part. The event was originally scheduled to take place at a small venue and go from 6 - 8 p.m. but, about a week ago we got word that it had gotten moved to THE VICTORIA EVENT CENTRE with extended hours - 6 - 10 p.m.; it was that popular - yea!

For a suggested donation of $10 to support Surfrider Vancouver Island for producing the event I could partake of an amazing spread provided by SITKA. Had I known I wouldn't have had that early dinner :-( but there was dessert :-) and it too was amazing.

Surfrider's FB site gave this info
HOST: Bianca Bodley (BIOPHILIA Design Collective)
- Andrew Woodford (MEC)
- Jennifer McKimmie (Niagara Grocery)Ingredients Cafe + Public Market)
- Rene Gauthier (Sitka)
- Jill Doucette (Synergy a Victoria-based organization with a mission to catalyze the green economy joined the panel at the last minute. Her work with local businesses to reach zero waste and carbon neutrality has won numerous awards for innovation and commitment to environmental practice.
Moderated by plastic-free enthusiast Carol-Lynne Michaels.


Take a walk around your neighbourhood today and look around, you will see plastic bottle caps, water bottles and bags somewhere in nature. In the film someone mentions that a particular U.S. state's flower should be the plastic bag as they're found hanging from, or tucked in and amongst, trees and bushes in such great profusion. Sadly, for a whole generation of children this is a common sight; this was not the case for those of us lucky enough to have been born in the '50's. Shamefully our generation is responsible for this sorry state of affairs.

Warning, geezer reflection coming up…
I worked for a natural food store in '80 which started out all natural and organic with items in bins. You brought your own bags and containers - no biggie, and it was wonderful. Then the large grocery chains started to hone in on the action bringing in bins and bulk items and supplying plastic bags and containers in which to put the stuff. In order to compete for the "middle of the roaders" who would be drawn to the full service of the chains and away from the Mom and Pop store, our little natural food store (and the natural food industry in general) found themselves on a slippery slope, bringing in packaged items until the bins got shifted to a smaller and smaller section of the store. Somehow "cross contamination" became a buzz word and plastic containers were stocked for our bulk items; you could no longer supply your own. A mere 35 years later we are trying to dig ourselves out of the mess we've created as careless consumers.

But the event wasn't a downer. I was buoyed up by the enthusiasm of the panel,the audience and the discussion that followed. These are people who cherish the delicate balance of nature, who are doing their best in small ways to make a difference - to be the change that they want to see.

Small ideas can have a great impact - Niagara Grocery's bag exchange program.
The market for reusable bags got flooded pretty quickly - most of us have more than our share of 'em. Now you can bring in your excess reusable cloth and durable plastic reinforced bags. Niagara will use them for those who have forgotten to bring their own bags (we know we've all done this). No single use plastic bags, paper bags or juggling acts needed to carry your groceries unbagged - brilliant!

80% OF THE PLASTIC BAGS THAT END UP IN THE OCEAN COMES FROM A LAND BASED SOURCE   which means that it's made it's way from where it was discarded on land to the ocean. So, in order to keep our shorelines clean we need to address the litter that shows up on our streets, in our parks, on our playgrounds, athletic fields and parking lots.
BIODEGRADABLE, WHEN IT COMES TO PLASTIC BAGS, IS A VERY LOOSE TERM   it may only be photodegradable, which means that it really doesn't bio degrade but instead breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, just a little quicker than other bags but still it lasts forever and contaminates the soil. Only compostable is truly biodegradable. 
- Most recyclable symbols (the arrows) have a number in them. You think they are all recyclable? Think again. Only those numbers 1 or 2 are most likely candidates for recycling. DON'T BE FOOLED BY THE RECYCLABLE SYMBOL - it lulls you into a false sense of satisfaction that you've done your bit for the environment.
- You don't use styrofoam cups anymore - yea! You use paper ones instead - boo! Why? THE INSIDE OF PAPER CUPS IS COATED WITH PLASTIC, SO ISN'T COMPOSTABLE  - duh! Somehow, I didn't really realize that. I had been concerned with the plastic lid that goes with them. One more reason to bring your own mug.


Make a point to say, "no straw" when ordering a drink in a restaurant because the server will automatically bring you one. They may still bring one despite your request, out of habit. If you don't refuse it when it's brought to your table many servers, brainwashed with the fear of "cross contamination" won't take it back even if you assure them you haven't used it. If you must use a straw bring your own - like these in bamboo. You can get them from places such as GOOD PLANET here in Victoria. 

Host a screening of BAG IT at your community or school…
and do a clean-up afterwards.
Check out the details on the BAG IT The Movie 
Here's a personal example of how bad the plastic bag situation is…A WALK IN THE PARK

TODAY IS EARTH DAY - SAY THANK YOU AND SHOW HER YOU LOVE HER… GO FOR A WALK, PICK UP ANY LITTER YOU FIND AND DISPOSE OF IT RESPONSIBLY and remember how amazing and precious this place and the creatures that live on her are!