Saying “No Thank You,” to Plastic shopping bags and “Yes Please” to reusable.
Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide. That’s 1 million plastic bags per minute! It is estimated that if everyone in the United States tied their ‘annual consumption of plastic shopping bags ‘ together in a giant chain, the chain would reach around the Earth’s equator 776 times! Canadians are using 9 billion plastic bags each year with with over 900 million of these being used in Alberta. Shocking when you consider that a bag may only be used for a few minutes to carry our purchases home from the store could take between 20 and 1000 years to decompose. They don’t readily break down in the environment. Since plastic bags are not biodegradable, they slowly deteriorate into small toxic particles, contaminating water and soil.
Some may be re-used as shopping bags, to line trash cans etc, and some may be reprocessed and recycled into new bags, plastic lumber, sub-laminate flooring, park benches and garden furniture, or other items.
However in North America less than one percent of the plastic bags we use are recycled. Unfortunately the recycling of these bags can be costly and also uses energy. Most are sent to landfill although many don’t even make it there. They make their way to the oceans of the world via storm drains and sewers during periods of heavy rainfall along with other trash, through nearby streams and water ways. Sadly this litter then pollutes the seas, and destroys wildlife. Sea Turtles and other marine wildlife are killed by ingesting plastic bags. Marine debris starts out locally but soon becomes a global problem due to river and ocean currents, crossing geographical and political borders.
A young female minke whale was washed up in Normandy, France, on April 6th 2002. These were the contents of her stomach:
1 x plastic/aluminum crisp packet (English chips)
2 x English supermarket bags
7 x various colored dustbin bag bits
7 x transparent plastic bags
1 x food packaging wrapper
According to Achim Steiner, “Marine litter is symptomatic of a wider malaise: namely the wasteful use and persistent poor management of natural resources. The plastic bags, bottles, and other debris piling up in the oceans and seas could be dramatically reduced by improved waste reduction, waste management, and recycling initiatives.” (United Nations under-secretary-general and united nations environment program executive director)
Schemes to encourage reuse of plastic bags have had limited success. It’s taking too long for supermarkets and politicians to sort it out, and it isn’t looking like there will be a solution anytime soon! Meanwhile plastic bags are still being used, still blowing in the wind, polluting our water, and killing the turtles and their marine neighbors. We can do something now by using reusable cloth bags. There are many available to and buy, but the model used by Morsbags is amazingly eco-friendly.
Morsbaggers use fabric, such as old curtains or bedding, personal fabric stashes, or donated fabric. Much of which is diverted from landfill to make bags to use instead of plastic bags – brilliant! They follow a Morsbag pattern, attach a Morsbag label to promote the idea, then use them or give them away!
The following are a few ideas from the Morsbags.com. There is a whole wealth of information and ideas there, including how to make one!!
Morsbaggers come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, from all backgrounds and have very different skills and wonderful ways of Morsbagging. Morsbaggers are from different countries, counties, towns and villages; some are schoolchildren others are students, the elderly, prisoners, mums, dads, soldiers, in short, ANYONE can be a Morsbagger.
How YOU can join in…
1) Make a morsbag!
Take a look at the basic pattern or watch the ‘How to Make a Morsbag‘ video and raid your airing cupboard/fabric stash for some tired bedding/scraps and transform them into fabulous, reusable Morsbags.
Order some labels and sew them on.
2) Set up a pod!
A pod is a group, or you can also be a solopodder and make Morsbags by yourself. Many Morsbaggers meet around a kitchen table or a local venue. Sewing, chatting Name your ‘pod’ something catchy and/or relevant and register so that you can add the Morsbags you make to the central tally. The rising tally inspires Morsbaggers to keep sewing and shows just what is achievable through combined effort. A few Morsbags a month from each of us can equal tens of thousands.
There is also a leaderboard of pods on the Pods Page – the most prolific pods appear at the top. Have a scroll and feel wowed.
Pods are shown on the ‘Morsmap’, so have a browse and see who’s nearby
3) Use your Morsbag. Take your new Morsbag shopping with you…it should be easier to remember to take it as you put some effort into making it.
Stash some in the car, in your bike basket and in your handbag. You should never be Morsbag-less.
4) Give Morsbags away!
Give Morsbags to friends, family, colleagues, secret crushes, post them through post boxes, bag the person in front of you in the supermarket queue, pop them onto windscreens in carparks, wrap presents in them, give them to a local shop to distribute – in short, get the lovely morsbags you’ve made into the wild so they can be used and reused and reused….
Also why not join in a mass handout?
The list of ways to use Morsbag sociable, guerrilla bagging is endless. A visit to their website would be a good place to start, with the possibility to locate and connect with local like-minded Morsbaggers. There are many pods and individuals working in various locations. Calgary is already on the Morsmap!
Look who has even made a contribution: