Judge not - it's a simple, open-hearted way to live. It's one I try to practice on a daily basis. But nothing throws my Buddhist ways into a tailspin more than seeing someone leave the grocery store with 50 plastic bags for their 50 items.
Come on, people! In the world of sustainability, when we talk about low-hanging fruit, meaning the easiest green practices to adopt, using canvas bags is like being handed a freshly washed peach that was so ripe it had fallen to the ground before someone picked it up and gave it to you. This is how low the low-hanging fruit of giving up plastic bags is.
On Tuesday, the Sustainable Film Series (organized by Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability and Loaded Joe's) continues with the documentary "Bag It" at 6 p.m. at Loaded Joe's in Avon. The documentary follows regular old Jeb Berrier as he embarks on a journey that starts with the simple plastic bag and its environmental impacts and then evolves into a full-blown investigation of plastics (packaging, baby bottles and toys, plastic-lined cans). It reveals our dependence on plastics and the politics behind it and sheds light on the harmful effects of plastic on our waterways, oceans and especially our bodies.
It basically gives you all the motivation you need to stop using plastic bags at the store and start remembering to bring your canvas ones. And it will also make you question your usage of other plastics, too.
"The thing that surprised me most in 'Bag It' was how quickly bisphenol A can build up in your body by using so-called normal products in our everyday lives - like using standard sunblock, eating soup from a can, using an aerosol, microwaving in microwave-safe dishes - and then how quickly changing these habits can lower the blood levels of BPA to almost nonexistent in a very short time," town of Vail's environmental sustainability coordinator Kristen Bertuglia said.
BPA is an industrial chemical that has been present in many hard plastic bottles and metal-based food and beverage cans since the 1960s. Trace BPA exposure has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system and trigger a wide variety of disorders, including chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain and neurological functions, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, adult-onset diabetes, early puberty, obesity and resistance to chemotherapy, according to the Environmental Working Group.
As more and more towns are banning plastic bags, such as Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale and San Francisco, Bertuglia is assessing public opinion about banning plastic bags in Vail, and she encourages residents to contact their council members if if they would like to see Vail join the many communities that have gone plastic bag-free. This year, Bertuglia and the town of Vail hope to work with the Vail Farmers' Market to eliminate plastic bags, like they have in Aspen. (Each year, the Vail Farmers' Market purchases 67,000 bags!)
"It's a growing movement and typically gets passed when the community demands it," Bertuglia said.
So find out whether or not you can live without the conveniences of plastic. Go see "Bag It" Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at Loaded Joe's in Avon. And don't forget to voice your opinion afterward.
Freelance writer Cassie Pence is passionate about living a more sustainable lifestyle, She owns Organic Housekeepers, a green cleaning company, and is actively involved in the Eagle-Vail Community Garden, the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability and Slow Food Vail Valley. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.