Never Thought I Could Feel Sorry for a Plastic Bag

And then I watched this short film. Plastic Bag, by Ramin Bahrani, traces the epic, existential journey of a plastic bag (voiced by Werner Herzog) searching for its lost “maker”, the woman who took it home from the store and eventually discarded it. Along the way, it encounters strange creatures, experiences love in the sky, grieves the loss of its beloved maker, and tries to grasp its purpose in the world.

In the end, the wayward plastic bag wafts its way to the ocean, into the tides, and out into the Pacific Ocean trash vortex — a promised nirvana where it will settle among its own kind and gradually let the memories of its maker slip away.

Far from upbeat, this film left me hopeful. If people take the 19 minutes to watch it, they’ll most likely be moved to make the switch to sustainable, reusable shopping bags. To those who already appreciate the sad life of a plastic bag, I hope you’ll share this with others.

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FUTURESTATES is a series of 11 fictional mini-features exploring possible future scenarios through the lens of today’s global realities.

The UnGreen … our Sunday newspaper

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500,000 trees must be cut down just to produce each week’s Sunday newspaper (all US Sunday papers combined).

That’s a bummer. The Sunday paper has been a fixture in my life for, well, my entire life. Something to look forward to, something I can always count on, a great way to enlighten myself to news that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the environment.

I’ve been struggling with the green–or ungreen–of receiving the Sunday paper for some time now. When I first considered this a couple of years ago, I was certain that reading online was the better option. Without doing any research, I ran the idea past my husband. “You’re kidding, right? This is the one thing I look forward to.” Note to self: don’t ask questions while husband is immersed in sports section. Of course, he’s from New York, so the Continue reading

The UnGreen: Take-Out

In case I’ve led some of you to believe that I am the epitome of eco perfection, I’d like to set you straight. While it is my goal, it is not a reality. I wish I could just *bleep* my eco blunders from my life. But I can’t. Nobody, not even No Impact Man, can be perfectly green.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” This quote from Theodore Roosevelt–our first conservationist president–is a touchstone for me. I reach for it anytime I find myself in a situation where I can’t live up to my own earth-friendly expectations.

Before the New Year, I’d like to confess a handful of eco mishaps–bloopers, if you will–in an effort to free myself of the haunting guilt. And, who knows, maybe Continue reading

Ix-nay on the gift wrap, eh?

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In the U.S., an additional 5 million tons of waste is generated during the holiday season. 4 million tons of this is wrapping paper and shopping bags. Need I say more?

I know, you’ve heard it all before. Use newspaper; re-use kraft paper grocery bags (which you shouldn’t have in your possession, because you use a reusable shopping bag, right?) and decorate with paint or markers–get your kids involved; place gifts inside of other gifts. An eco-chic tote makes a nifty gift bag! blah blah blah. Everyone will be talking about your ingenuity at the egg-nog bowl.

Not at your holiday gathering, you say? You’ll be ridiculed? Oh, come on! You can stand up to that nonsense–think of the trees and the landfill space you’ll help to save. Take it from me. I know. It’s hard at first. But Continue reading

Day Two: Consider ALL trash bins off limits!

In 2006, the U.S. produced more than 251 million tons of trash – 4.6 pounds per person per day.  (EPA) dustbin liner Continue reading

Two Pizzas, Hold the Plastic

Okay. I’m mad. We ordered pizza the other night, had them delivered (I know, not the epitome of perfect eco-friendly behavior in and of itself) and what was inside? Continue reading

Lose 41 Pounds in Less Than an Hour

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(updated December 20, 2011)

Of junk mail, that is. The average adult receives 41 pounds (approximately 560 pieces) of junk mail each year. That’s a total of 4 million TONS!

What does it take to make 4 million TONS of junk mail (remember, this is PER YEAR)?

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