Another bag nag: Plastic, like diamonds, is forever: time to use fewer bags

Between 30 million and 50 million plastic bags enter the environment as litter in Australia each year.

These environmentally damaging bags – produced to be used once and then thrown away – are a symbol of our disposable society. When future generations reflect on our convenience-maximising consumer behaviour, the permanence of disfigured, shredded, flying white flowers (A.K.A. plastic bags) will testify to a discard culture and dispose culture in the name of brief convenience. Like a globally pervasive cancer, plastic bags everywhere entangle, drown, asphyxiate, and starve animals that mistake their wavy, sun-struck allure for food. Bags adorn trees and fences, becoming the new indestructible urban weed. A colony of bags visible from space (it is 15 million square kilometres!) has accrued in the Pacific, an enormous soup of tiny plastic nodules.

The Conversation

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2 responses to “Another bag nag: Plastic, like diamonds, is forever: time to use fewer bags

  1. Why is it, I can go to a community and see NO plastic bags in trees or along the highway, and in others they are everywhere? Are the bags prejudiced?

  2. The good thing aout this story is that it’s been recycled so often and still stands up to the weather. Unlike the average shopping bag which disintegrates to dust within a year or two in the sun.

    Earth Magazine says (http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/tracking-plastic-oceans?page=1) “This vast area now dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to cover between 700,000 and 15 million square kilometers.”

    So the claimed area _could_ be than 20 times *smaller*.

    More significantly, the picture that Ting paints of vast expanses of floating plastic is far from reality: (Earth Magazine, also)
    “Currents and waves are constantly moving and churning the plastic, breaking it down over time into smaller fragments that are weathered by ultraviolet rays or eaten by marine life. It is also difficult to obtain samples from great depths (the plastics, after all, do not just float on the surface). In the past half decade or so, a number of research teams have ventured into the garbage patches — which are not like solid, floating islands but are far more diffuse, barely visible to the eye.”

    i.e. plastics aren’t forever. And they form surfaces in the water which are used by various forms of life. Nor is the patch visible. And only SOME PIECES of it have been reported to be visible from space.

    Hyperbole such as “We know the bags do untold damage”; which isn’t even internally consistent, don’t make up an argument. They just “fill space” with blabber.

    Dr Ting; if you’re writing about stuff outside of your area of expertise, you should be very careful to check your facts before transmitting your “wisdom” to the rest of the universe. And stick to the facts.

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