Plastic Ok? is a direct reaction to the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. As a Florida gulf coast resident and a conservationist, the impact of the gulf spill feels especially personal to me. Over two years later, the devastation is still largely unmeasured and unresolved. Yet rather than decreasing offshore drilling, oil companies are expanding into more sensitive areas than ever before. Commodities are placed above our own health and the environment. We are suffocating our world and ourselves in toxicity.
Oil consumption and the ever-increasing carelessness with which our societies pursue this addiction is part of a larger epidemic. Rather than insisting on sustainable options for our energy and the products we consume, we continue do too little to reverse course by electing officials who support the industries that are harming us, paying little attention to what goes into manufacturing, progressing on an unsustainable path, awaiting the next man-made disaster instead of preventing it.
The plastic bag is a symbol of this epidemic for me in part because of its direct connection with oil. Many bags are made from polyethylene, derived from petroleum. While plastic bags equate for a minor percentage of the total oil consumption, that still amount to millions of gallons of oil each year. Many of the bags not made from oil instead use natural gas to produce them, the harvesting of which is another major environmental hazard. Add to that the inability of the plastic bag to biodegrade, the massive amount of bags littering our ocean and the fact that less than 1% of plastic bags are recycled, and it's clear plastic bags are a real part of our environmental problem. Moreover they represent an impact each of us can have in a simple, tangible, step.
It took over a year to amass the amount of bags used in this video because I felt it important to do so without increasing my own consumption. Instead I asked for cast-off bags from friends and colleagues, but in my attempts to eliminate the plastic bag from my life, I sometimes falter. Some of these bags came from take out orders or days of reusable bags forgotten at home. All of the bags used in this video are being reused as materials in related work.