Where does it all REALLY go?


I don’t know about you but whenever I throw out my paper bag and plastic container from that pumpkin soup I had from lunch, I wonder about where it all really goes. Sure, we have been exposed to pictures of landfills through the media and usually assume this is where all of our trash goes at the end of its life. The truth is that we easily forget that a huge chuck of all trash ends up in the ocean. Although you man have never littered in your life, there is still a good chance that that plastic spoon you used last month is churning in one of our great oceans. This along with all the unseen storm drain debris and invisible  pesticides slithering down those pipes into the local stream all add to the demise of our biosphere.

Suffering from the durability of plastic

So what do we do? Sit and sulk? Quite the contrary. We become proactive! We can start by decreasing our plastic usage, mainly by replacing those ubiquitous film-thin plastic bags with friendly reusable ones during regular shopping. A staggering 80% of debris in the ocean is plastic, or ‘plastic soup’ as the New York Times likes to say. Knowing these facts is alarming and may make one feel like individual actions are just drop in the bucket. But just think- if everyone stopped and threw their hands up in defeat, where would we be now today? Everyone has to start somewhere, and luckily for us we already have a successful European model to follow.

‘We’ as a society can limit our plastic bag usage and follow in Europe’s footsteps. I speak from experience when I say that Germany is on the path to sustainability- and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be either.

Happy, plastic bag free shopper

I spent the first half of this year right about an hour outside of Zürich and plastic bags were priced at 90 cents at the checkout. They bags sold were more comprable to freezer bags, meant to last you a few months on your trek back and forth to your local Aldi. Over there, I rarely touched a film-thin plastic bag. I became used to loading up my empty backpack with cloth bags as I hoppon on my bike to pickup the essentials. It was a switch a lot simpler than plastic-bag extremists make it out to be.

Filled to the brim with this week's essentials



My point is that it is possible to make the switch from those flimsy, plastic bags over to a more sustainable lifestyle with reusable shopping bags. You can start the trend while the rest of our country catches (eventually). You may even save yourself some frustration and avoid the hassle of carrying that slowly ripping plastic bag into the house from the car. Complete elimination may not be possible but a significant decrease in our country’s current addiction rate of 100 billion plastic bags per year is possible.

A sustainable life leads to happier people. What other life choices have you made that have helped the planet as well as your well-being?


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