I was recently asked by the Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation to be a panelist for a discussion following their screening of "Bag It". "Bag It" is a documentary made by a Colorado man, Jeb Berrier, who took a close look at plastic bags and how he can eliminate them from his life. In the process, he also investigated all of the other plastic products in our modern world and how they are impacting personal and environmental health.
Although I consider myself an environmentalist, this film was eye-opening. I truly believe that anyone who watches it with an open mind will be changed forever. Jeb's layman investigation into where most of our plastic trash is ending up (the ocean), places that have banned or placed a fee on plastic bag use, and how living in a plastic-coated world is causing serious health implications will leave you stunned. There is a section in the film on Hawai'i beaches that is less than flattering.
I urge you and your ohana to try to make it to one of the screenings of this film on March 10th, either at 5pm at UH Manoa or at 6:30pm at Hanauma Bay. See "Bag It" Screening Map for more information. "Bag it" is not currently available on Netflix or at Blockbuster but it may be showing on our local public TV station starting in April, so keep your eyes open for that.
Here are a few amazing facts from "Bag It": Source
- The average American uses about 500 plastic bags each year, for an average of 12 minutes before they are discarded.
- Two million plastic bottles are consumed in the U.S. every five minutes, less then 25% are recycled.
- The average American contributes 800 pounds of packaging waste to landfills per year.
- 14 million pounds of trash end up in the ocean each year.
- Plastic debris resembles plankton—fish food—and there is 40 times more plastic than plankton in some parts of the ocean. In this way plastic enters our food chain.
- It is estimated that 100,000 marine mammals and sea birds die each year from becoming entangled in or ingesting plastic debris.
- Ireland reduced its plastic bag use by 90% after instituting a fee on single-use disposable plastic bags.
- China banned “ultra thin” plastic bags in 2008. They reduced their use by 40 billion bags in the first year.
Here at home, Hawai'i residents consume 400 million plastic bags annually, and tragically most of these end up in landfills or the ocean.
Take the time to see the film and ask yourself- "is my life is too plastic?". There arealternatives and we need to make these changes now--for the environment, for the ocean, for aquatic life, for ourselves, and for the next generations.