The life cycle of the ‘urban tumbleweed’

Plastic shopping bags are derived from crude oil. And billions of our plastic bags every year are not recycled, which means they end up in landfills or, worse, as urban tumbleweeds. They take centuries to decompose and as they slowly break down, they disintegrate into tiny plastic pellets called nurdles, which are ingested by many animals with deadly results.  Watch this 4-minute mini-mockumentary from Heal The Bay, narrated by Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons. This video, called The Majestic Plastic Bag, hammers home the stark reality of plastic bag pollution. And here’s how to kick the plastic bag habit.

4 thoughts on “The life cycle of the ‘urban tumbleweed’

  1. Both videos are enlightening and distressing. Who knew that there are five giant, naturally occurring oceanic garbage pits? And their impact?

    And don’t get me started on plastic water bottles!

    The price we pay at the store for something we can get for nearly nothing is just the beginning of the hideous true cost. According to The Natural Resources Defense Council, in 2006, the equivalent of 2 billion half-liter bottles of water were shipped to U.S. ports, creating thousands of tons of global warming pollution and other air pollution. Only about 13 percent of the bottles we use get recycled. In 2005, 2 million tons of plastic water bottles ended up clogging landfills instead of getting recycled. And untold tons end up in the gyres (giant, circulating oceanic garbage pits).

    How about going one step farther than recycling these insidious conveniences — and forgo the use of plastic bags and disposable plastic bottles? Not just recyclable, but reusable cloth bags and glass water bottles are relatively inert, and far gentler to this good earth.

    Thanks, Carolyn, for your always thoughtful posts on this blog.

    • Thank you, Perry for your comments and for the helpful NRDC link. Excellent tips there. Our society seems hopelessly addicted to drinking bottled water (in plastic bottles) and those plastic bags – let’s hope we see a societal shift, one consumer at a time.

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