How Plastic Are You?

Tip of the Month – January 2014

BY Cynthia Ruzzi, President, Sustainable Danville Area

Have you ever overheard someone referring to a woman as ‘plastic’?  The term just as easily could be used to refer to a man, but either gender, “she’s so plastic” usually describes the person as ‘fake’ or ‘phony’ – or that she has undergone one too many cosmetic surgeries!  However, if the world continues its love affair with plastic polymers, one day soon we might all be more plastic than a Barbie doll.

In the opening pages of Plastic, A Toxic Love Story, author Susan Freinkel attempts to go an entire day without touching anything plastic.  After touching numerous plastic objects during her morning routine, she revises her plan and decides to write down everything she touches that is plastic.  This strategy nets her four notebook pages of plastic items by the end of the day!  If you’re not convinced we all live in ‘Plasticville’, then consider that the average American uses between 330 – 500 plastic bags a year for an average of 12 minutes before throwing them out (that adds up to between 100-150 BILLION plastic bags used last year in the United States alone).

Unlike most other trash, plastic isn’t biodegradable and only five percent of our bags are recycled.  What happens to a discarded bag besides becoming a modern day tumble weed floating along our streets? They never go away!  Sunlight eventually breaks the bonds in the plastic polymers; a process known as photodegradation , but the plastic bits never really go away.   There is a floating “island” of plastic swirling around in the Pacific Ocean known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’.  And while you may not be planning to visit the island on your next family vacation, you may want to think about how this ‘plastic soup’ can visit us!  Fish in the Pacific Ocean eat the plastic bits (thinking that it’s plankton, better known as fish food) and then we eat the fish, so essentially we’re eating the toxins from the plastic water bottle someone chucked out.

San Ramon Valley High School Environmental Club (E2) students and Sustainable Danville Area bring the award-winning film Bag It to Danville.  Bag It, a touching and often funny documentary about how we use and abuse plastic, is the featured film to be screened on Tuesday, January 28th at 7PM in the San Ramon Valley High School Performance Arts Center 501 Danville Blvd. The group hopes to raise awareness of the impact of single use plastics, like plastic bags and water bottles, on our community.

The film is an eye-opening look at the environmental and health dangers posed by the global use of disposable, non-biodegradable plastic products. Told with wit and humor, Bag It follows “everyman” Jeb Berrier as he embarks on a global tour to unravel the complexities of our plastic world.  The film focuses on plastic as it relates to our throwaway mentality, our culture of convenience, our over consumption of unnecessary, disposable products and packaging – things that we use one time and then, without another thought, throw them away.  Remind me, what’s AWAY??  If  I remember that ‘away’ really just means ‘out of sight’ and ‘see you soon as fish food’ then I might remember to grab a few of those 10 re-usable bags sitting in my car trunk as I enter the grocery store.  I’ll even fill a re-usable water bottle if it keeps toxins out of my fish and it’s a bonus knowing that I’m not adding to the island vortex in our oceans.

General admission to the film screening is open to the public with seating availability on a first come basis.  A $5 suggested donation benefits the San Ramon Valley High School Environmental Club (E2).  Join the Near-Zero Waste Pre-show: Weather permitting, we’ll gather in front of the theatre for snacks and games.  Test your recycling knowledge and win cool prizes.  Learn how to protect our creeks and water resources. Please bring a re-usable container for beverages. Activities begin at 6:30PM. For more information regarding this event, or to donate to the San Ramon Valley High School Environmental Club (E2), please visit or follow us on Facebook.

Reprinted with permission from Danville Today News


One response to “How Plastic Are You?

  1. Hi Cynthia,

    Happy, happy New Year! I see you are off and running with this fantastic article!

    Do you have any sort of image or advertisement that we could post at the Garden about the Bag It screening? Jeff and I are definitely going to try to be there!

    🙂 Heidi