arts 06.5.12

Trash Talk
Every Person in New York

We're talkin' trash again today.

Last month, we ran our week-long series on recycling in NYC —
Wretched Refuse
What Goes Where
Plastics 101
Is NYC Doing Enough?
Ban the Bag

Since then, we've had a number of interesting email conversations with readers about the attempts to green the city, the efficacy of recycling, the apathy of some of our fellow New Yorkers, and the strategic and legal tactics of the American Chemistry Council.

For those of you who haven't thought much about single-use grocery bags, we'll make a rare MUG guarantee: Watch the documentary Bag It (it's available for purchase or to rent at Netflix and iTunes) and you will never look at a plastic bag the same way again.

The movie, with Jeb Berrier, directed by Suzan Beraza, is, surprisingly, a pleasure to watch. Funny in places. But guaranteed: your thinking will change. Seriously. Your actions will change. You will have taken an important step in protecting our oceans. The people who come after us might thank us, instead of cursing us.

Here are a few unfun facts:

• Plastic trash entangles, suffocates, and poisons at least 267 animal species worldwide.

• Up to 80 percent of all marine debris is plastic, which never biodegrades.

• Approximately 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. That's more than 1,200 bags per US resident, per year.

• About 1 million plastic bags are used every minute.

• A single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.

• Plastic bags remain toxic even after they break down.

• Plastic pieces outweigh surface zooplankton in the Central North Pacific by a factor of 6-1.

• Plastic pieces can attract and hold hydrophobic elements like PCB and DDT up to one-million times background levels. As a result, floating plastic is like a poison pill.

• Any square mile of ocean has about 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.

• An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags.

• Only 1 to 2% of plastic bags in the USA end up getting recycled.

Watch the movie.

Sign our Ban the Bag petition.


Jason Polan started Every Person in New York in March of 2008. He plans on working on the project until it is finished. Look for Every Person in New York on Tuesdays in MUG and daily at Jason's site.

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