Plastic has permeated our lives and except for those which are incinerated, every single bit of plastic EVER created still exists today. Every Single Bit (The World Without Us; Alan Weisman). Plastic gets broken down into tiny bead sized bits called "nurdles" and are being ingested by fish in every ocean on the planet. Yum. What about recycling you say? Unfortunately, plastics are usually recycled into one-use only products that can then no longer be recycled (downcycling as plastic degrades with each recycling). Unless stated, all plastic that you are purchasing is virgin plastic that will live on forever. Although a step, recycling plastic only delays the inevitable. Further, most municipalities only accept certain numbers or types of plastic. Halifax ONLY accepts #1 and #2 plastics. You put all plastic in the bag anyway you say? I truly do not believe that the recycling plant workers who have to sort through thousands of blue bags actually check each and every bottle for the recycling number, keeping those that are a "go" and throwing the rest away. You can assume that if a bag contains non-recyclable plastic (like yogurt containers) that the ENTIRE bag is thrown into the landfill/dump. The best step- reduce your consumption of plastic. (For a more indepth and informed discussion on plastic- check out Fake Plastic Fish's blog here for a nice rundown of "why plastic is bad" and her stellar link "The 7 Misconceptions About Plastic and Plastic Recycling).
Finally, the ocean garbage patch. Ugh. David Suzuki estimates that it's 620 000 square kilometres (20 times the size of Vancouver Island) and 30 metres deep. Of garbage and plastic. Plastic diapers, toothbrushes, bags... Plastic in our ocean doesn't really decay- it can last up to a 1000 years, but then scientists aren't exactly sure... it degrades SO slowly that after half a century we still can't get an accurate measure. These tiny plastic nurdles are mistaken to be zooplankton by Lantern Fish, and outnumber zooplankton 6 to 1. Yup. Those chemical leaching, oil soluble plastic nurdles being gobbled up by fish, accumulating all the way the food chain to us (David Suzuki Foundation and "Waves of Disaster" by Roberta Staley). (pic- Me fishing for nurdle-filled mackerel on my father's lobster boat, Atlantic Ocean. Note the constant fog).
Alright. So this info (only the tip of the plastic-y mountain) results in some major reluctance around using anything plastic. In order to help us remember to actually HAVE a reusable bag, we needed something other than those awkward, annoying big bags.
Cue- "Flip and Tumbles". No matter how many reusable bags you own, if they are always left at home they aren't being very useful. Flip and Tumbles are these cute little bags that fold up into small compact two inch balls that fit into your purse! They're kinda like Popples (for those of us that remember them!). The bags are made from nylon (ugh- another plastic!) but are recyclable (and if not in your home town, the designers will recycle those shipped back to them). I was a little nervous about trying them, another gimmick to get me to buy (and I am internet ordering jinxed!) but we have seriously used these bags hundreds of times since we bought them. They are SO easy to just roll up (and FUN) and throw into my purse, or Andrew's bookbag. For those spontaneous shopping moments, like when I remember randomly that we need more toilet paper, and haven't actually planned a shopping trip; we have bags! Also, they are much easier to carry with you on quick small grocery shopping event. I LOVE mine :)
The next and on-par with my life altering DivaCup purchase, were my pog-sacs by Lioli. You can read about them here, but truly they have changed my grocery shopping experience. Here I was with my reusable bags, filled with plastic produce bags. So annoying. Although I started just placing the produce straight into the bag, with organic produce, contamination can be an issue. Plus, sometimes I wanted a BUNCH of carrots. These little cotton mesh and solid bags (unlike the nylon=plastic ones I was seeing everywhere in Halifax) are unbleached, fair-labour and easily washable. They allow your produce to breathe easier in the fridge than the plastic does- so it will last longer. Until now Lioli was the only company I was aware of that was Canadian owned.
Until... CREDO. Credo bags are a Montreal based company who makes mesh cotton produce bags... wait... IN Canada!! They even offer 100% certified organic produce mesh bags! For those Haligonians out there, these bags are sold at P'Lovers in the ParkLane Mall. However, when I checked for a certification seal on the tags there were none to be found. The website also doesn't divulge any third party certification seals and with all the greenwashing going on recently surrounding false certification seals this is a little off. **UPDATE: please read Judy, Owner of Credo Bags' comment below regarding certification of organic mesh bags! Thank you Judy!**
Also, I LOVE my solid Lioli bags, as I place bulk organic rice, grains, peas, bean sprouts etc in them. No solid bags are available through Credo.
Two small steps and my "Nurdle" Impact or NI has decreased!
Blessings! (and Happy Earth Everyday!)