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>What I Learned From "Bag It"

March 2, 2011


Bag It is a documentary that follows the live of an average man as he discovers more and more about the world of plastic around us. I can honestly say that this movie changed my life for the better, I am so glad I decided to get off my butt and go see it! It is definitely a must see if you care about your health and the health of those around you!

Before I saw the movie Bag It, I had failed to notice that 99.9% of items sold at the market come packaged in plastic:
  • You weigh out your produce in plastic bags.
  • Berries come in plastic containers.
  • Jam, peanut butter, syrup, ketchup, mustard, and spices come in plastic containers (if not glass).
  • Even apples, oranges, and other foods with skins that act as “natural” packaging come wrapped in plastic.
  • Cereal comes in plastic.
  • Disposable plastic cups and utensils come in plastic bags.
  • Cookies and candy are sold in plastic packaging.
  • Bubble-wrap is plastic.
  • Soda, juices, and water come in plastic bottles.
  • DVDs and CDs are in plastic cartridges.
  • What’s your Xbox controller made of? Guitar Hero guitar?Plastic.
  • Soap, shampoo, and hair care products all come in plastic bottles.
I cut down that list to make this post shorter, but I hope you get the point. I never really thought of how much I consume, or cared to notice how much of what I bought ended up being thrown out. Having written multiple pieces about plastics for work and researched the Great Pacific Garbage Patch for school, I don’t know why I haven’t caught on earlier that plastic is everywhere, and it’s a problem. A simple enough problem, isn’t it? When we no longer want the plastic we just throw it away…
But where is “away?” “Away” means either in the recycling, or in the trash.

Just recieved an email with this photo from the Husky Energy Action Team (HEAT),
an environmental club at Northeastern University.

Most likely plastic goes in the trash. The movie is great in that it clearly shows how confusing recycling can be to people, and uncovers the reality that most plastics are not recycled anyway. When plastic bags are thrown away in trash they are easily blown away ending up caught in trees, storm drains, and creeks. They eventually make it into the ocean and kill close to 100,000 marine animals every year. THEY KILL SEA TURTLES 😦 So let’s stop using single use plastic bags, right? Reusable ones are more stylish anyway! And so are reusable water bottles! Have you realized that Evian is Naïve spelled backwards? Now you should feel like an idiot when you purchase a plastic water bottle. NEWS FLASH: Drinking from your tap is sexy and smart.
You may think that recycling is the best alternative, but that’s totally false (sorry to burst your bubble). Plastic bottles cannot be recycled into new bottles, the plastic is “downgraded” through the recycling process. So the best thing would be to just avoid them entirely. That’s why “reduce” comes before “reuse” and “recycle.” Something I didn’t know until I watched Bag It.
In Bag It the narrator, an average dude, started off discovering problems with plastic bags. But the problems grew to problems with plastic bottles, which then led to problems with plastic food packaging. Problems with packaging led to chemicals in baby products and chemicals in products designed for everyday use. This ordinary guy just kept digging deeper and found not just plastic bags to be the problem, but the whole concept of “throw-away living” to be entirely destructive to the environment and the human body. It turned out that plastic bags were just the “tip of the iceberg.” There are so many other shocking issues brought up in this movie, I really hope you go see it for yourself.
Now that I’ve seen Bag It here are some things that I’ve been doing to minimize the plastic I consume.
  1. Absolutely NO plastic bottles of any kind. Bye-bye soda, it’s been nice knowing you.
  2. Stop placing my produce in plastic bags at the grocery store. Whole Foods has paper bags now! And I plan on reusing them over and over again until they wear out. Eventually I’ll either buy or make my own reusable mesh bags to take with me.
  3. Bring my reusable bags to the mall—not just the grocery store. On second thought, I am going to limit my trips to the mall, too.
  4. I have stopped microwaving food contained in plastic containers. After what I saw in the film, there is no way I can go back.
  5. Also at the grocery store, if there is a brand of peanut butter (or something else) in a plastic container and one in a glass container—I’ll always go with the glass. The jars can be cleaned and reused around the house or they’re easily recycled.
  6. Cut out canned food as much as possible. According to the movie aluminum cans are lined with a layer of plastic inside.
  7. My buddy and I get made fun of at school for picking plastic bottles out of the trash and throwing them into the recycling, but I’m going to keep doing it for the sake of generations to come. Plus that means more landfill space.
  8. Avoid products with tons of packaging, and avoid buying new products. Hello thrift stores! (There are three located conveniently near my house, so I can still get my shopping fix in. Also—you find great things you may not find anywhere else at thrift stores!)
Well these are just a few things I’m doing/planning on doing. There are probably others I’m overlooking! Make it a new part of your daily life to notice the overwhelming amount of plastic around you, and try to decrease your own impact!

Here’s one issue that was addressed in the film, which I thought was very important for people to know:

Rubber duckies are made of plastic loaded with phthalates (chemicals that give the plastic its flexibility), which are highly toxic. Hooray for poisoning our children! Why are phthalates bad? Lower sperm counts, for one. Gender neutrality is occurring—boys are becoming more feminine and girls are becoming more masculine. And phthalates have been linked to ADHD symptoms. How do I avoid phthalates? Here’s a link to one helpful website.

The serious health and environmental concerns resulting from our plastic manufacture and consumption are issues that need to be addressed by individuals like you and me. Unfortunately, our government is doing and will do absolutely nothing to protect its citizens from toxic chemicals that are found in plastic products. The only way we’re going to see change is if local communities and individuals like you and me make conscious decisions to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle (listed in order of importance!).

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 3, 2011 8:37 pm

    >Haha wow… this is so true. I'm sitting here at work and everything I can see is made out of plastic. And I just unwrapped a Jolly Rancher that was wrapped in… plastic. There is also a rubber duck looking at me. haha it's everywhere! Thanks for this post. I now look at the world differently.

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