Posts tagged ‘recycling’

Moving Beyond the Plastic Paradigm

Plaza cafe...so artsy.

by Chase Eck

My friend Stephen and I were in the library a couple nights ago. He was learning everything there is to know about the Holocaust, and I was writing a paper analyzing different historical perspectives on the Israeli war of Independence in 1948. Clearly we needed a break. We moseyed on down to Plaza café and swapped light conversation about looming demographic problems in China and electoral models across democracies over steaming cups of Seattle’s Best. Sometime during the conversation I realized just how many points I had accrued during my study break and vented my dismay to Stephen with some well-chosen words.  Stephen’s response was: “Well you just have to count the plastic right?”

Of course as anyone who is familiar with the No Impact challenge knows I couldn’t just count the plastic.  I had to count the cardboard coffee cup as well. That’s the point, it’s easy to fixate on one easily identifiable culprit such as plastic or oil but the truth is the issue is so much broader.  We need to move beyond the latest villain of the day and seek to identify why wasteful behavior is so bad and work to better our habits with regards to that issue as well as others.  Plastic bags aren’t inherently bad, it’s just that the number we consume is so wasteful. This concern applies to all single use items, not just those made of plastic.

April 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm 2 comments

Spring is in the air…and plastic bags, too

by Zach Glasser

Today it finally feels like spring in Evanston. After a week of bitter cold rain, it was nice to step out into the sunshine today on my way to the cafe. I may have spent my day indoors writing a paper, but at least I snagged a window seat.

As I looked longingly out onto the street (my staring became more and more frequent the longer I sat here), I noticed that, despite the warm weather today, there were no leaves on the trees. Now, I’m of the mindset that Evanston has the longest winters around, so that probably shouldn’t surprise me. What did surprise me, though was that instead of leaves in the trees, there were PLASTIC BAGS.

This is not a leaf. It is a bag.

Imagine my dismay to find this bag in the tree instead of leaves. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not what spring is all about. The epidemic of plastic bags in our cities couldn’t be more apparent when we start seeing things like this.

As I kept looking out the window, I saw more and more bags tangled in trees! I knew this was a phenomenon in some places, but I had just never noticed it here before. I was able to count no fewer than seven bags in four separate trees, just on this block alone.

You just can’t look at these pictures and tell me that this is okay. The plastic bags that are so ubiquitous in any shopping center are now, if today’s experience is to be believed, just as ubiquitous as leaf-replacement therapy for balding trees.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the No Impact Challenge, it’s how easy it is to go entirely bagless. My lifestyle doesn’t require plastic bags–I can bring my own reusable bag wherever I go. The convenience of using a plastic bag is so sorely outweighed by the negative impact they have–if they’re not filling up landfills or the ocean, they’re filling up trees–that there really are no more excuses.

Look! More bags!

Whether you read this blog for inspiration or because you simply enjoy our challenge, I encourage you to be observant next time you walk down the street. How many plastic bags are floating around up there? Do your part and bring your own bag when you go shopping and maybe our trees will grow some leaves this spring instead of plastic bags.

April 23, 2011 at 4:09 pm Leave a comment

Being Sustainable with a Runny Nose

by Alicia White

What do pizza and having a runny nose have in common? Find out in my video post:

April 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm Leave a comment

NUpcycle Episode 1: Coffee Cozy

That’s right! Upcycling. Check it out and be on the lookout for more like this in the future.

April 12, 2011 at 10:01 am Leave a comment


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