Earth Day 2012 – The earth can’t wait much longer

Today is the 42nd Earth Day celebration.  In their “A Billion Acts of Green” campaign Earth Day Network want a billion people to sign up to do something small, but sustainable in our own lives to improve the planet’s health.

I’ve tried to post this several times over the weekend. I’m just trying to write about plastic bags, please let me post it this time…

Only about 5% of single use plastic bags are recycled. Most of them, together with plastic bottles (which I wrote about in my Earth day post on April 22 2010) end up in the ocean.

You don’t believe me?

I took these photos at the beach next to Malibu Pier on March 3, 2012 [from 5:38 pm to 5:39 pm].

a seagull finds a plastic bag in the water

runs out the ocean holding the bag in its beak

several gulls try to get the bag from him

these two birds fought over the plastic bag, until it ripped in two

the seagull ate the bag

My request this earth day: if you have to use a plastic bag in your trash can, or for the lettuce in the refrigerator, or your doggie-doo, please dispose it properly and make sure the bag doesn’t end up in the ocean.

I shared this this 4-minute mockumentary produced by Heal the Bay, and narrated by Jeremy Irons, about the life of a plastic bag in a much earlier post when I didn’t have many readers…

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We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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41 Responses to Earth Day 2012 – The earth can’t wait much longer

  1. Reggie says:

    Although I had heard of the plastic garbage patch in the Pacific, I had never seen this mockumentary before – it is so brilliantly narrated by Jeremy Irons, with the accompanying music just perfect.

  2. Arindam says:

    You raised an important issue here. Paper bag instead of plastic bags are the best solution to this problem. Although our government charging us 2-5Indian Rupees extra on use of plastic bags; but I am not sure if this money is used properly by our government.
    And the mockumentary is really nice. Thanks for sharing it.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Arindam,
      I’m interested to learn that in India you’re charged an extra two to five Rupees if you want your groceries in a plastic bag, and if I understood you correctly, the government gets that money, but no one knows what they do with it?

      • Nandini says:

        In my native state, the polythene bags are completely banned. It’s been years actually. There is improvement for sure, like very chances of polythene bags simply lying around or being flown away by the wind. This step did make the mountains cleaner, nicer, and even more prettier. I hope they ban these polythene bags everywhere. It really is very very unpleasant to watch places messed up with these unnatural things.

        Really great post, Rosie. Thank you! 🙂

      • Arindam says:

        You are absolutely right. To be honest, we Indians have no idea about maximum things our government do. 🙂

  3. magsx2 says:

    Hi,
    What a great video, very well done.

  4. shoreacres says:

    Did you happen to follow Roz Savage’s rows across the Pacific? Do you know her work? Here’s a link to her site. Somewhere on there I think there’s an interview with the guys who crossed the Pacific on a boat made of plastic junk.

    Anyway – she’s quite an advocate, and quite a woman. I sponsored a few miles for her on her last row – now I see she’s headed to the 2012 Olympics, rowing across the Atlantic!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Linda,
      Thank you so much for the link to Roz Savage’s site. Wow what an inspiring woman. Two quotes:
      “They said I was crazy. They said I wasn’t big enough, not tall enough, not strong enough….”
      and
      “I pared life down to the basics to find out what really mattered to me, to find out what was left when I was defined by what I was, not what I owned.”

      http://www.rozsavage.com/contents/rozs-story/

      In a previous post about plastic bags I included a photo of “Plastiki, the 60-foot catamaran made from 12,500 plastic bottles” which British environmentalist David de Rothschild and his crew sailed from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia. (The aim of their 128 day journey was to bring attention to conditions of our oceans and the amount of plastic debris in the Pacific)

  5. Sybil says:

    Last year two big grocery stores in Nova Scotia tried to introduce at 5 cent charge for plastic bags. They did a huge promo about helping the environment. Several weeks later the stores went back to giving the bags away, as too many people had complained.

    Sigh …

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Sybil,
      Sorry to hear the stores had to back down.
      IKEA’s been charging five cents a bag for the past few years and people pay up without complaining. They say they give the money to environmental causes.

  6. Thank you, Rosie, for this important reminder. Poor seagulls… I always remember to bring my own bags into the grocery store, but when doing other kinds of shopping I forget and wind up bringing more plastic bags home. Your post has moved me to make that a new goal, to bring my own bags into ALL stores.

  7. Nandini says:

    And of course, BRILLIANT PHOTOGRAPHS. 😀 Seriously, great job and patience. I love that you share similar sentiments for our planet Earth. 🙂

    Cheers!

    • dearrosie says:

      Aw shucks Nandini that’s very kind of you. Unfortunately as the light was fading and I had to use the telephoto lens, the pictures aren’t very clear or in focus, but hey that’s what you get with candid photography.

  8. souldipper says:

    Good for you, Rosie. I become incensed over this dreadful poison we feed this poor ol’ planet. I use cloth bags for my groceries and am very diligent about recycling. Then I come to this city environment and cannot believe how little people seem to care. Plastic used everywhere…

    Oh dear. Let’s not give up.

  9. It’s sadly notable how little coverage Earth Day got this year, or any year recently. It’s barely talked about. I’m not sure if it’s because we tune out the conversation about recycling like a kid does to a parent, only hearing yada-yada-yada, because most of us feel we do as much as we can already. Alot of stores around me no longer have plastic bags as an option – it’s paper, or your own. That’s a good start. After all, when I was a child, nothing was plastic. Our toys were wooden. Our diapers cloth. Our milk came in glass bottles that the dairyman took away and returned weekly. Soda came only in glass, not metal that can float away. Six packs of beer or soda came in a cardboard holder, not plastic rings. There’s an entire culture of plastic that has to go away before this problem is solved. But good for you to have us talk about it!!

    And I second souldipper, brilliant photo of the seagulls!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi EOS,
      Even though Earth Day’s getting so little coverage I’m noticing how more and more Americans at my cash register are saying “No thanks I don’t need a plastic bag”. Yaay! I always thank them.

      Wow there’s way too much plastic in our lives. I’m glad to say that we’re able to buy our 6-pack beers and pop (both cans or bottles) in cardboard boxes. WholeFoods has glass milk bottles in their fridges, but I don’t use them. Do you?

      I used cloth diapers on my kids, and made my own baby food.

      Glad to know you liked my photos of the seagulls.

      • Rosie: I do not use the Whole Foods glass milk bottles. There’s a local dairy that delivers eggs and milk that many of my neighbors use – we’re empty nesters and don’t use enough of either to warrant a delivery. But I do think milk taste better in glass. I did not use cloth diapers on my kids but did make their food.

  10. Rosie, those pictures tell a thousand words — very well done. I can’t believe you got them — speaks to the sheer amount of plastic bags that must be floating in our oceans. It’s a disgrace. And makes me so mad. I can’t watch your video at the moment, but I will. Another blogging friend of mine wrote a post I think you will really enjoy, if you haven’t seen it already: http://animprobablelife.com/2011/11/26/lori-robinson-bag-project-africa/.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Melissa,
      We have no idea how many plastic bags are floating out there. My camera was in my pocket so I was able to whip it out and quickly click the shutter. The light was fading so they aren’t as clear as I’d have liked.

      Thanks so very much for the link to your friend’s post. I hadn’t heard of Lori’s bag project. What a marvelous idea to swop 25 plastic bags for one cloth bag.

  11. Rwanda banned plastic bags completely in 2004 – and it’s still completely outlawed to use plastic; in fact, they’ll take the bags away from you in the airport. Rwandans are also required to pick up all the garbage and refuse around the country for 1/2 day — I think every month. To think that an African nation can do this (I believe South Africa’s also banned plastic bags) and we in America have absolutely NO vision about dealing with these problems is SO pathetic. It’s not freedom, it’s irresponsibility. Ban plastic bags … now!

  12. p.s. I love that you reference the 2010 blog (which I remember!) when you didn’t have many readers. So happy you’ve been discovered!!

  13. munchow says:

    Great post. There are so many small things we can all contribute with. Plastic bags is one of the bigger curses of modern society – and it needed be so, if we all become more aware and conscious. Thanks for sharing your concern and for the incitement.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello Otto,
      In an earlier post on plastic bags I quoted The Guinness Book of World Records which named the plastic bag “the most ubiquitous consumer product of 2009, as it is produced on a worldwide scale by the trillions, just to be thrown away.”
      This is 2012 and we’re not only still using them but people who come to my cash register expect their purchases to be placed in bags made of plastic, and if they ask for a separate plastic bag for each item I have to give it to them with a smile plastered on my face. Ugh it makes me ill.

  14. Plastic bags are so destructive; I’ll be happy when they’re finally banned. Thanks for your post. The images are a sad reminder of all the work that still needs to be done. But we’ll get there–especially if more people continue to bring this issue to people’s consciousness. On a happy note, small steps are being made: I was shopping in Oregon last fall and was thrilled that Target had banned plastic bags (as well as many other stores). And I see Melissa (Play 101) kindly pointed you to my blog to take a peek at what one woman is doing about eliminating plastic bags in Africa. Lori Robinson is the perfect symbol of how one person can make a difference.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi and welcome Becky,
      I’m delighted to hear that plastic bags are banned in Oregon. I don’t know why Los Angeles is still giving them out…

      I’m grateful that Melissa included the link to your post about your friend Lori’s efforts to clean the Tanzanian town (in Africa) of it’s plastic bags.
      I’ve traveled in Southern Africa and I’ve personally seen the hundreds and hundreds of plastic bags littering rivers, stuck in trees, in ditches along the sides of the roads… Lori’s idea of simply giving a cloth bag (donated by people in the States) to each person who collected 25 plastic bags is brilliant!

      Lori Robinson is a great inspiration to all of us who think and say “I’d love to do something to help clean up the earth, but I’m just one female without much money or influence …”

  15. munchow says:

    You asked if there is anything you could have done to improve the pictures. I actually like them very much. There is a beautiful mood not the least because of the sky being reflected in the sea. Particularly the first one is incredibly beautiful. Now it wasn’t really beauty you wanted to show, but the sadness of pollution with its many consequences. Unfortunately this message doesn’t come across as clearly as you wanted in these pictures, simply because the plastic bag is relatively small in the pictures. The one that shows your sentiment the best is the second to last. It’s actually quite nice. What could you have done to improve the result? Shooting this kind of situation with a point-and-shoot camera would always be hard, even if you hadn’t had to deal with low light at dusk. The only thing I would suggest is to wait, wait until two seagulls tug the plastic bag from each other (and hoping it would happen). You need time and patience in other word. It might still not work because most point-and-shoot cameras has a very slow response-time, so by the time the shutter actually trigger the situation may already be gone. This said, I still like the pictures. They really show a beautiful atmosphere.

  16. dearrosie says:

    You really answered my question. Tusen takk Otto. (I hope that’s the correct form of thanks)

    I can see that the light on the water in the first one is lovely and I agree that the second to last one captured what I was trying to show.

    I find the shutter delay with a point-and-shoot camera very frustrating. It’s not easy to get spontaneous shots especially of kids or birds.
    But even if I set myself up with a tripod and fancy camera on the beach, I’m not guaranteed a shot of birds fighting over a plastic bag. A photographer needs a lot of patience…

    What I did here is just click the shutter several times in rapid succession in the hope that at least one of the photos would show the birds fighting over the bag.

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