Sustainability 101

Plastic Bag Monster “Scares” Up Awareness on Earth Day

plastic bag monster cropped highWith its glowing yellow eyes, this angry plastic bag monster looks like he is in the middle of devouring the entire earth!

Great Forest recycling consultant and artist Sandra Robishaw designed and crafted this attention-getting display out of hundreds of used plastic bags for the lobby of UBS in Weehawken, New Jersey, for Earth Day.

This showcase was one of dozens of Earth Day events organized by Great Forest across the country to raise awareness about recycling and sustainability.

“We saw so many delighted expressions on the faces of office workers surprised by our colorful monster in the lobby.  They approached us to ask questions and were eager to learn more about what they could do to recycle and reduce their use of plastic bags. Many even pledged to remember to use reusable bags,” says Robishaw.

“A display like this prompts curiosity and above all, its memorable.  I bet the message of our monster will last well beyond Earth Day.”

Why A Plastic Bag Monster? Here are Some Plastic Bag Facts:

  • Currently, about 100 billion plastic bags pass through the hands of U.S. consumers every year.  That is almost one bag per person each day. Laid end-to-end, they could circle the equator 1,330 times.
  • Typically, each plastic shopping bag is used for only about 20 minutes before it is thrown away.
  • Even if bags are reused as bin liners or as grocery bags, only 5% are recycled – the rest end up in our landfills, soil and waterways.
  • In landfills, they take 400-1000 years to break down.
  • In the soil or in the water, they don’t disappear over time, they break into smaller and smaller toxic bits.
  • 86% of sea turtles, 44% of seabirds and 43% of marine mammals have been adversely affected by plastic marine debris.  The animals can get entangled and injured, or they might ingest the plastic, which can cause death.
  • Less than 5% of Americans bring their own shopping bags.
Artist's sketch of the plastic bag monster
Artist’s sketch of the plastic bag monster

In New Jersey, where this monster was installed, legislators are weighing a five- cent charge per plastic bag, and in New York City, a similar idea is being mulled but with a 10-cent per bag fee to expand current NYS plastic bag reduction efforts already in place.

This year, Los Angeles banned the distribution of plastic bags at large retailers, and Dallas has passed a five-cent fee on bags that will go into effect next year. In Washington, D.C., a five- cent charge on all single-use bags has reportedly led to a 60% reduction in bag use.

Across the country, 132 cities and counties have with anti-plastic bag legislation.

The plastic bag monster will “scare” office workers for a week in Weehawken before moving to Jersey City.

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