Alberta Politics Politics US Politics


Plastics have been demonized for decades, but a British study shows that they are well down the pollution list. Here’s an interesting factoid from a recent article in The Economist.

“A cotton tote bag must be used 131 times before greenhouse gas emissions from making and transporting it improve on disposable plastic bags. The figure rises to 173 times if the plastic bags are reused as garbage bin liners. (We do that)

The carbon, (they surely mean CO2) footprint of a paper bag that is not recycled is four times that of a plastic bag.”

Here’s a blog I wrote six years ago.

2012  IWUZ at my local, Natural – and greener than thou – Foods store the other day to pick up some Chia seeds and high potency fish oil. I walked up to the check out, and the twenty-something young cashier chirped out: “Would you like a paper bag for 25 cents or a reusable bag for two dollars?”

I couldn’t resist. “Do you know they have to kill trees to make paper bags? No plastic bags?”

Twenty-Something: “Paper bags biodegrade. Plastic bags don’t.”

Me: “So what? It goes to a landfill.”

TS: Plastic bags could last for ten thousand years! That’s terrifying!

Me: “So what? It’s a landfill.”

TS: “That’s terrifying!”

Me: Why?”

TS: “That they would sit there for ten thousand years without biodegrading. That’s terrifying!”

Me: “It’s a land fill. Twenty five years ago I read an article in a science magazine about the Fresh Kills landfill in New York City. They dug down 30 feet and one of the things they found was a 15 year old ham sandwich, perfectly preserved. It hadn’t biodegraded at all.”

TS: “It must have been full of chemicals or something! That’s terrifying.”

Although the girl looked Caucasian, by this time I had the uneasy feeling I was dealing with a greenie who had been trained in North Korea.

Me: “No, it’s lack of oxygen. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.”

TS: “That’s terrifying!”

I gave up. I suppose I might have marginally raised my status in TS’s eyes had I told her that we re-use plastic grocery bags to line the garbage and trash containers; rather than buy them separately at the store. And we have four rain barrels. But I didn’t. I paid my 25 cents, and walked out with TS looking at my back and thinking; “That’s terrifying.”

I walked to my car, reflecting on brainwashed twenty-somethings who somehow are taught not to think, and thought: “That’s terrifying!”

Teach your children well!

Dave Reesor

5 replies on “THAT’S TERRIFYING!”

Big picture: the human race is a collection of slobs. Whether or not our global littering is causing climate change or not, we are very disrespectful to our planet. I think humankind missed a golden opportunity, when science eclipsed religion with explanations for life, to worship the earth: air, water and land. These truly are responsible for the ability to sustain life not some fairy tales, invented by the ancients. I prefer the “brainwashed” lass whose approach to life on the planet will help sustain the planet.

I am in complete agreement that we need to clean up our act. I have 8 grand kids and I don’t want to bequeath them a dump. But the fact is that as countries industrialize and become wealthier, their air, water and soil do become cleaner. Environmentalism costs money.
Insisting on paper bags which require trees, and re-usable bags which require washing with water and soap and electricity, rather than plastic, which can also be re-cycled, or re-used, as we do; seems to me to be more about style than substance.
I’m all for green energy. But we have no remotely economical way to store wind or solar energy for when the wind doesn’t blow, or the sun doesn’t shine. Until storage technology improves enormously, we need to develop ways to burn fossil fuels ever more cleanly.
Our Environmental Commitment at The Let’s Do It Ourselves Movement is: “Be Sensibly Green”.
Incidentally, I drive a Ford Fiesta. I say that I have it for the prestige, because unless I’m upstaged by a Smart fortwo, I have the smallest car in the parking lot.
Someday I’ll do a blog about religions and fairy tales. I know their are other atheists who read this blog and I’m happy to hear your positions, and to respectfully, offer mine.

I agree that we cannot stop our reliance on fossil fuels cold turkey and I agree that we must find a cleaner way to use these resources. Saskatchewan is one of the worst polluters in the country and that needs to change. In the meantime I would rather the young lady err on the side of the planet. Her “science” may not be accurate but I like her concern.

Sorry Dave, but this so wrong I don’t even know where to start. In a developed nation with landfill your argument may be valid. I agree nothing will biodegrade in a landfill so the benefits of paper or cotton over plastic are meaningless there.

What about in the majority of the world that has no organized garbage pickup or landfills? What about places like here where it is impossible to look virtually anywhere without seeing styrofoam, which ends up burned, or more likely in the ocean? This is not some wild eye theory of a brainless 20 something. This is something I see every day.

It is not unique to this island, I have seen it throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Sure, some places do a better job of cleaning up, but most of that is: 1. Recycled (certainly includes polypropylene bottles), mainly going to China 2. Burned (and how I love the aroma of burning plastics) 3. Washed into the ocean, which is grossly contaminated with plastic debris from a multitude of sources or 4. Landfilled. In this country, the land fills are heavily scavenged for anything of possible value. I don’t think that includes plastic bags.

I see your article as middle America myopic and considering your life, I find that surprising. Plastics are vitally important and idiots that don’t understand that and the connection of plastic to oil and gas astound me. That said, the sooner we eliminate Styrofoam packaging and plastic bags, the better. We don’t need them.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: