I‚Äôve heard the term ‚Äúplasticity‚ÄĚ quite a bit lately. Malleable, changeable ‚Ä¶
On PBS TV, I‚Äôve seen shows about ‚Äúneuroplasticity‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ the brain‚Äôs ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.
Like being plastic is good.
I‚Äôm thinking neuroplasticity might also allow the brain to be injured by exposure to toxins. Like there are two sides to the adaptability coin. Like being plastic might not be so good.
I wonder whether neuroscientists coined ‚Äúneuroplasticity‚ÄĚ or whether plastics manufacturers ‚ÄĒ quite a powerful lobby ‚ÄĒ had something to do with it. Because, through a wildly successful marketing strategy, plastics have invaded every aspect of our lives and our environment ‚ÄĒ to its detriment.
Remember ‚ÄúThe Graduate,‚ÄĚ when an older, wiser man whispered ‚Äúplastics‚ÄĚ to a naive Dustin Hoffman? Hoffman seemed a little creeped out by the exchange. How prescient of the film‚Äôs writers.
Haven‚Äôt we always known in the backs of our minds that plastic might be a little too good to be true. Isn‚Äôt it a little too pervasive these days to feel comfortable about, or to ignore?
But back to plastic bags ‚ÄĒ something we can do something about.
Last week, I saw the multiple-award-winning documentary, ‚ÄúBag It ‚ÄĒ Is Your Life Too Plastic?‚ÄĚ on plastics and plastic bags at the Kentlands 10 Stadium Theaters.
Various local environmentally concerned nonprofit groups, including the Muddy Branch Alliance (clean water), Poolesville Green, the Kentlands Community Foundation‚Äôs Go Green Group and Silver Spring Green, sponsored the film showing. Paul Huang, owner of K Kentlands Stadium 10 Theaters, donated the use of the theatre.
‚ÄúBag It‚ÄĚ starts out being about plastic bags and evolves into a wholesale investigation into plastics and their effect on our waterways, oceans and bodies. Of course, plastics are useful in some ways and in some configurations, but plastic bags are not among them. And until we learn how to recycle plastic in all the ways we use it, it would probably be best to devise other container strategies for the literally everything we put in plastic.
When I say ‚Äúwe,‚ÄĚ I mean the United States of America. Let‚Äôs start here. In many other places around the world, people never gave up bringing cloth or other kinds of reusable containers with them to market so they don‚Äôt have to unlearn the throwaway bag thing or otherwise detox from plastic.
There are also many nations and states around the world that, like Montgomery County, are unlearning the plastic bag thing. China is one. According to a March 2012 announcement from the Chinese government, a strict limit on ultra-thin plastic bags significantly reduced bag-related pollution nationwide during the past year. The country avoided the use of 40 billion bags, according to government estimates.
Plastic bags are commonly found in waterways, on beaches and in other ‚Äúunofficial‚ÄĚ dumping sites across China.
In its first review of the ban, the Chinese announced earlier this month that supermarkets reduced plastic bag usage by 66 percent since June, which is estimated to have saved the Chinese 1.6 million tons of petroleum. Prior to the ban, an estimated 3 billion plastic bags were used daily across China, creating more than 3 million tons of garbage each year and using an estimated 5 million tons (37 million barrels) of crude oil annually to produce plastics for packaging.
Way to go, China.
It‚Äôs great to be a resident of Montgomery County. In January, the Carryout Bag Law went into effect here. The law requires a 5-cent charge per bag on each paper or plastic carryout bag provided by retail establishments in the county to customers at the point of sale, pickup or delivery.
Paper bags were included in the law because, like plastic bags, they use enormous amounts of natural resources in their manufacture and cause unsightly pollution when improperly disposed. Both types of bags contribute to problems caused by litter and are expensive to clean up.
Interested groups can obtain the film ‚ÄúBag It.‚ÄĚ Information is available at: http://www.bagitmovie.com/screenings.html.
It is so good to be empowered as an individual to change things in a way that benefits us all.