Pebble in the Pond’s “Green”Busters Video Series: Episode #1
It’s not easy being green. It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things […] But green’s the color of Spring.
And green can be cool and friendly-like.
And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree.
When green is all there is to be …It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why?
Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful! And I think it’s what I want to be.
Kermit was right. With so many “green” choices, and different ways of calculating our ecological footprints, it’s become so difficult to distinguish between consumer products that some of us may just shrug and go for the cheapest solution. Being part of the organizing committee for the Powell River 50-Mile Eat Local Challenge, I am often questioning my own food choices like “is freezing my own peas and keeping them in the freezer for 6 months make more sense than buying fresh peas from BC? What about from Peru? China?” Then, bring in the Organic aspect and the questions multiply like rabbits: “Organic” by whose standards; what about packaging and permissible (but still questionable) preservatives added to Organic food that travels long distances? What about different labour standards in different countries? How comparable is buying Organic from Safeway to buying local certified Organic produce? What about uncertified but effectively “organic” food grown or raised locally? What about foraged food — where was it picked and how can I be sure that lovely Chanterelle mushroom wasn’t picked on contaminated soil? It’s endless, and that’s just food. What about the stuff in which we simply carry the food around?
The shopping bag has been a major Pebble in the Pond preoccupation for some time now, mostly because the ‘single-use’ thin-film plastic shopping bag is an easily avoidable, replaceable and visible target. What’s contained within these shopping bags is next. But let’s stick with the bag for now. Our “Green”Busters series of YouTube videos and animations will reveal facts that some of us take for granted. The first target in the series is a look at so-called woven polypropylene bags that many of us confuse with natural cloth bags. It’s no wonder we make this mistake: they feel like cloth, they are sold or given away as a “greener” choice, and best of all, they are reusable and inexpensive. Of course, if we remember to take them along when we go shopping, they do reduce our use of those remain unrecycled: only 5-7% of plastic shopping bags are ever recycled due to the expense and trouble they cause in recycling facilities where they gum up the recycling machinery.
That said, these polypropylene bags are still plastic. Certainly, many of them use at least some recycled plastic material, but most of them contain 70% and more new petroleum-based polymers. Plastic is used to keep costs down, to provide strength and durability in these light-weight, reusable, washable poly bags. But as with so many other plastic products, their good points start to work against the sustainability of the product once its effective life cycle is over: one tear, one rip or one hole and that sucker’s in the landfill or on our streets, in our waters or in our forests for generations to come. Plastic does not biodegrade, but photo-degrades into small and particles that both contain and collect surrounding toxins, that can be then be ingested by animals, and further up on the food chain, to us.