On the second day of the Daily Footprint Project, my attention is drawn to a single plastic bag. I inherited it when I bought the prepackaged red organic grapes at Whole Foods. We have eaten all the grapes. Now, what to do with the bag? It has holes in it for airing the grapes, so we can’t really use it for anything else. I look for any kind of recycling directive. No indication that the stuff is recyclable. What to do?
Interestingly, earlier in the day I found the New York Times Science Section’s article on microscopic plastics in the ocean. The article is a nice complement to the ‘Synthetic Sea’, the video I featured in one of my earlier posts. Here is what the article says: The researchers looked at how plastic particles picked up a pollutant, phenanthrene. They found that plastic adsorbed far more of the chemical than sediments. The particles could be carried by currents and eaten by organisms far from the sources, or they could sink to the bottom. The researchers estimated that even tiny amounts of plastic could significantly increase the concentration of phenanthrene in a common sediment-ingesting worm, the lugworm, and from there accumulate up the food chain.
Reading the article, and then staring at the plastic bag with holes, made me come up with this image. It’s called ‘The Circle of Plastic’ and it goes like this:
plastic bag is not recyclable → I throw it in garbage → plastic bag ends up in landfill → storm comes and washes it down into stream → plastic bag makes its way to the ocean → plastic bag gets broken down into microscopic particles → particles pick up phenanthrene → lugworm eats the stuff → small fish eats worm → big fish eats small fish → man catches big fish → big fish ends up at my grocery store → I buy piece of big fish → fish man wraps it up in plastic bag → I feed phenanthrene impregnated fish to my family → plastic bag is not recyclable
Circle completed. Next time, I will buy grapes at the farmers’ market where they come in bulk. And I will ask the fishman to bypass the plastic bag. Two paper wrappers should be sufficient.
I also went on the town’s website for recycling instructions and looked up their guidelines for plastics:
Recyclable plastics: #1 and #7 containers (e.g., beverage. milk, soda, water, detergent, shampoo, lotion, yogurt, margarine)
- Non recyclable plastics: food contaminated plastics, film plastic (e.g., plastic bags, shrink wrap, bubble wrap)
Prad thinks we can gather all our non recyclable plastics, and bring them directly to the town’s recycling center, where they have a special bin for it. One solution could be to gather all our reject plastics and bring them once a week to the center. I will need to investigate this some more.
Daily Footprint Project Daily Log Day #2 Water personal: toilet flush 2 wash hands 5 showers at gym 2 wash face 2 brush teeth 2 mom: communal: run dishwasher full load rinse dishes rinse salad Electricity/gas personal: desk light 3hours laptop on since all day laptop plugged in overnight microwave tea 2' microwave oatmeal 4' microwave soup 2' mom: toaster oven for toasts 2' microwave hot chocolate 2' communal: run dishwasher full load fry two eggs on stove Food personal: organic raspberries cup of tea with organic milk organic oatmeal with organic whole milk cup of soup (leftovers from Whole Foods) organic grapes mom: toast two bread halves Catherine’s breakfast hot chocolate communal: two organic eggs organic salad Garbage personal: mom: one toasted bread half communal: three newspaper wrappers grapes bag, are these things recyclable? 1 spoiled tomatoe 1 old radishes 1 old bunch of thyme Transportation personal: mom: wife: pick up Prad at airport 44miles go with Prad to gym 6miles extra 3 miles to get rope for Catherine communal: Non food shopping personal: mom: synthetic gold rope 10yards for Catherine’s Halloween costume communal: