We celebrated Earth Day by visiting the great Salt Lake City landfill.
I didn't imagine that it would be a picturesque field trip, and did not come prepared with my camera.
But this is exactly what it looked like:
Beautiful blue skies contrasted by great loads of garbage, and inordinate numbers of gulls. However, even more shocking than the vast garbage piles were the amount of empty plastic grocery bags cluttering the landfill, clinging to border fences and soaring in the breeze through the surrounding areas.
Today I learned that there are great costs to our environment associated with the use of free plastic bags.
Plastic bag facts:
• The US uses 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually, according to The Wall Street Journal.
• An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many bags.
• Four of 5 grocery bags in the US are now plastic.
• Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found intercoastal cleanups, according to the Center for Marine Conservation.
• Plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill (and many of them never make it to the landfill, they get caught in fences, trees and even the throats of birds).
I have pledged to:
* Bring my own reusable bags to the grocery store (Costco sells a set of 3 for $3 that are durable and the perfect size). I will keep them in my car and at my home.
* I will no longer let myself throw away a clean, plastic grocery bag. It will be reused (over and over again).
* I will ask my favorite stores to stop providing bags for free, or to offer a discount for not using the bags.
(Many thanks to Ella's amazing first grade teacher, Miss Lee, who organized the field trip.)