Here’s a scary ratio for you: 40 to 1. That’s the ratio of plastic to phytoplankton currently in our oceans.
Yes, plastic outnumbers the most basic food source in the sea, and by a truly staggering amount. I learned this and more at a recent screening of Bag It, a documentary about the pervasiveness of plastics in our ecosystems. I felt increasingly guilty as I sat there watching the film, knowing that my viewership could somewhat be considered preaching to the choir, and yet what have I done to change my lifestyle and limit my plastic consumption and interaction? Truth be told, I’m at a pretty elementary level of taking action. I can pat myself on the back for a few things: I don’t drink bottled water, I rinse out my plastics before recycling them, and I collect plastic bags to drop off every few weeks at Whole Foods (and often find myself first picking out the trash that’s weaseled its way into the “stretched plastics” bin before putting my contribution in there; ugh). I carry around a (non-plastic) fork in my purse in case I need one on the go, and I have a set of cutlery as well as a reusable bowl and plate that I use for meals at work. I bring them with me to meetings and lunches and wash them daily.
Unfortunately that bowl and that plate are both plastic. 99% of the food sitting in my fridge as I type is in plastic containers — some of which serve as the receptacles for my reheating that food, I’m embarrassed to admit. I almost always use exactly two of those little disposable milk substitute things (what the heck are those called?) in my morning tea, the bag which of course comes individually wrapped in a disposable plastic package. And the list could go on and on.
I have enormous room for improvement, now that I’ve been inspired not only by the Bag It documentary but also by a Washington Post piece about someone who lived virtually waste free for a couple of years. Stay tuned for some follow up from me as I audit my personal plastic usage and make some tweaks to reduce it.
In the meantime, here’s the Bag It trailer: