There are many ways to take action to change the world’s heedless path toward the precipice of Catastrophic Climate Change (and Peak Oil, Peak Water, etc …). We can act as individuals, families, communities, businesses, nations … And, we can foster action by others through our own actions … directly and indirectly.
When it comes to the easiest first steps toward a better relationship with the environment, for the rich developed world, two easy actions have real impact and start the path toward real change: replacing incadescents with compact fluorescent bulbs and using canvas bags.
As for the second, here is a video that is worth watching and helping go viral.
Plastics are pervasive and a pervasive problem
Over the weekend, CA Democrat’s The Largest Man Made Thing on the Planet? helped bring the community’s attention to plastic’s impact on the oceans.
“It’s a toilet that never flushes, but just keeps accumulating,” he says of the patch. “If you’re an organism in this area you have six times as much chance of bumping into something plastic as you do something natural.”
On plastics in the ocean, the best single approachable piece (with excellent, distressing photos) that I’ve see is Susan Casey’s Plastic Ocean: Our oceans are turning into plastic … are we? at
Best Life Online. That article is HIGHLY recommended. (Pale Cold started She’s dead! Wrapped in Plastic with a quote from this.)
And, well, talking of connecting crises, where do those plastics come from? Anyone ready to talk Peak Oil? Petroleum is
pervasive in modern life and one path to ameliorate Peak Oil is to reduce (eliminate) unnecessary use … e.g., plastics that end up polluting the globe.
How much might canvas bags help?
From Reusable Bags.COM:
- The amount of plastic going to plastic bags is somewhat staggering to consider.
Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.
According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. (Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion)
100 billion of those grocery store and other shopping bags! Just how many layers of wrapping do we need around our purchases?
- And, the impact can be, literally devastating and near permanent.
Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.
Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade—breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest.
And, action matters … every canvas bag entered into the process can have an impact by reducing tomorrow’s plastic load.
Each high quality reusable shopping bag you use has the potential to eliminate hundreds, if not thousands, of plastic bags over its lifetime.
Getting in the habit of carrying a canvas bag is a first step toward reducing (if not ending) a love affair with wasteful, polluting plastics.
A first, symbolic step that can have an impact …
Does symbolic have meaning?
Let us be clear, the news is grim when it comes to Global Warming. The Planet is on Hair Trigger for catastrophic climate change, with the potential for events to get out of our (humanity’s) control (if we’re not already there). The imperative for change mounts literally with each passing second.
The symbolic message of carrying a canvas bag to the grocery store in a McSUV to pick up fish flown and grapes shipped halfway around the world to your local grocery will not, in itself, change the globe for the better.
And, there is a good case to be made that emphasizing the small, easy changes can be counterproductive as people get a feeling that change will be easy, that they don’t need to take serious action, and that the problem must not be so bad if the solutions are so easy. (Best discussion of this is probably Mike Tidwell’s, CCAN, Efficient Light Bulbs Hurt Efforts to Fight Global Warming.)
Yet, the symbolic can have impact. There is something to be said for getting people to take baby steps as part of the training and development process to prepare them to take leaps and bounds.
And, the symbolic carries the message not just for the bearer but for those who see it.
Time to wake up . . .
It has gotten out of control.
Introduced 25 years ago, our society now consumes an estimated 1,000,000,000,000 (that’s one trillion) plastic bags annually. The result is unnecessary pollution that litters
our landscapes and negatively impacts our environment. A global effort is emerging aimed at significantly reducing this number.
Thus, if you aren’t yet, “Take Your Canvas Bags when you go to the Supermarket“. And, well, help send this message to millions of others by helping this video go viral.
help make America
Energy Smart.: Are you doing
your part to
* Hat tip to Celsias for highlighting this video. Lets multiply this and see if this can go viral.
* ACTION: Not only do I strive (not 100% successful) to have that canvas bag with me for my shopping, but strive to wrap gifts in an attractive, reuseable bag — often one meant for shopping. Thus, the wrapping becomes part of the gift and becomes part of multiplying action, of fostering others to change their habits. A painless way to Pass it On when it comes to climate-friendly actions.