This week, during our Oil and Our Lifestyles: A Month of Action, we’ve turned our focus to plastics.

Yesterday, we talked about the issues surrounding water bottles. Today, we’re focusing on plastic bags.

According to Environment Oregon, there are 100 million tons of plastic trash in the North Pacific concentrated by the ocean’s currents into a toxic soup 1000 miles off our coast where plastic outnumbers plankton 40-to-1.  All this plastic pollution in our oceans poisons, strangles, starves, and suffocates millions of sea turtles, seabirds, whales, and fish every year.

For example, here in Oregon alone, we use 1.7 billion plastic checkout bags every year — that’s 500 per person!  So many of those bags make their way into our ocean, onto our beaches, and into marine ecosystems. These bags are also notorious for clogging up the gears of recycling machines, creating constant mechanical problems at recycling stations.

Here at NWEI, we focus on individual behavior change and small group learning through our discussion courses and in our EcoChallenge. So we’re challenging each of you to decrease the amount of plastic you use.

Today’s proposed action is: Vow to always bring your own reusable shopping bag whenever you go shopping.

If you’re already doing this, give a reusable bag to a friend or neighbor to double your impact.  My wife and I keep a few canvas bags in our car so that when we make those impromptu grocery shopping trips, we never have to use plastic bags.

Also, contact your local elected officials and urge them to ban the use of plastic bags in your community.  Several states, including Oregon, are currently considering statewide bans on plastic bags. Make your voice heard!