Earth Day is Monday, April 22, and — as it was in the founding year 1970 — a good time to take inventory of our own efforts to keep this planet in clean, environmentally conscious order. Well, talk is cheap.
The whole planet? That’s a big place. Sure, we’re recycling — some of us do it as a way of life; some don’t. Many of us are aware of pesticides we spray on our lawns. And even a rising number of us are buying fuel-efficient vehicles to fight dirty air.
But what are we doing truly on a personal level? Do we really “think globally, act locally?” Is there one area where, as individuals, we can make a huge difference? Yes, but it’s work.
Stop using single-use plastic bags when shopping. Halt. Para! Alto! Arretez! Ting! Ma! Gueman. (German, Spanish, Spanish, French, Chinese, Zulu, Korean.) No one disputes the fact that plastic bags cause land, air and water pollution. It is also indisputable that it takes about 400 years for a plastic bag to biodegrade. Just Google “plastic bag pollution images” sometime. You’ll get the picture. Better yet, take a trip up on the Foothills Parkway — you’re guaranteed to see at least one plastic bag in a tree. Or drive out Sevierville Road — there will be a plastic bag in an adjacent pasture. Ain’t going nowhere, as they say.
Despite the Tennessee General Assembly’s questionable action to prohibit local governments from banning single-use plastic bags, there is still something we can do. Find an alternative. Use it when we shop. Here are some suggestions that will make it simple to “think globally, act locally.”
• Every chain store in Blount County carries cheap, reusable grocery bags. Many are not much more than a dollar. One chain gives the proceeds to programs that fight hunger.
• Your insurance agency, for example, will give free tote bags that are perfect for grocery items. When you renew your insurance policy, ask for two or three.
• Many magazine publishers give away bags when you pay for your subscription, and so do charitable organizations when you make a donation.
• Some people even make their own grocery bags from leftover fabric. Styling!
• Choose to shop stores that don’t offer plastic bags — you either bring your own bag or the store furnishes cardboard boxes.
Of course, single-use plastic bags are not the whole problem. The United States is the biggest producer of trash in the world. That makes Blount County a part of a world-sized issue and not one to be solved overnight or by attacking one situation. But it’s a start, knowing we can do our part.
Think globally, act locally. Indeed.