Thursday, February 07, 2008

Plastic Soup

Have you heard about the island of plastic debris that floats around Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? It's now twice the size of the US. "The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world's largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting "soup" stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan."

Read the full article here. I had heard a bit about it before, but there are new studies out and it's absolutely horrifying. 100 million tons of garbage.

"Plastic is believed to constitute 90 per cent of all rubbish floating in the oceans. The UN Environment Programme estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic." And the article further warns, "that unless consumers cut back on their use of disposable plastics, the plastic stew would double in size over the next decade."

This was one of the very first news-y stories I read this morning, and I clicked around to read more. Totally disgusted, I then heard the familiar "bomb" of the UPS guy dropping delivery boxes on the front porch. Of course it was the plastic bags I just ordered for shows this year. You might remember that I was agonizing over the paper vs plastic debate for my own little shows and sales. It invariably rains here in the Pacific Northwest and the soap gets ruined in paper sacks. So I searched long and hard to find 100% recycled materials, made in the US bags. The above photo is the cute little design - added bonus.

But of course they arrive today when I am reading about how every single bottle cap, 6-pack ring, bag, etc has made its way into the middle of the ocean and killing untold millions of sea creatures. Ugh.

I guess I'll still need to use them sometimes, but I'm back to paper primarily. I read an article last night that listed decomposition times for these things. It's 1 to 5 months for a paper bag. It's decades for plastic bags. My new recycled plastic bags: "contain 100% recycled plastic which consists of a minimum of 10% Post Consumer Recycled (PCR) and is made in the USA from high quality domestic resins in a clean environmentally rated facility. It also is degradable by the addition of a special additive that allows the bag to degrade in the presence of oxygen. The wildflower design is printed with water-based inks.

Maybe that's the best I can do for now. But I'm still looking for alternatives. Would anyone pay a few extra dollars for canvas bags? Maybe this summer everyone will already have their own tote bags and the little paper sack will be all I need (to keep it from dinging and smelling up other purchases).

I'm trying to keep my "less, less, less" mantra top of mind this year. Trying to leave a smaller footprint. Less of everything, and the business is part of it. There will be less packaging, less ingredients and accessories that need to be packed and shipped from afar. Less buying of anything. Less using of anything. It all seems to go together while we're heading into a bad recession year too. Yikes, it's all scary bad news, isn't it?

Positive note: tomorrow is the Valentine's Sweet Treat day at Collage. 10% off all your purchases. Home-baked sweet treats to munch on. I made red-hot brownies. Parking is free. We are open late - 10am to 8pm. Skip all the crowds at the Hillary and Obama events (heh, now they remember lonely little Seattle) and make a date to go shopping instead.