[caption id="attachment_24462" align="aligncenter" width="600"]<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2019\/05\/DSCF0850.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="424" class="size-full wp-image-24462" \/> DO\u2008YOU\u2008EVER feel like you are drowning in a sea of plastic and packaging? The above selection of groceries was purchased at Pocahontas IGA as part of an experiment to compare the \u201ccarrying capacity\u201d of plastic bags to reusable bags. You can see the results, below and to the left. Answer: four to one. J. Graham photos[\/caption]\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_24464" align="alignleft" width="400"]<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2019\/05\/DSCF0856.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="480" class="size-full wp-image-24464" \/> IGA\u2008EMPLOYEE\u2008BILL Jordan graciously packed and repacked the groceries for these photos. Reusable bags are convenient, easy to handle, cheap and often free. The three year old bag, above, was purchased at The Fresh Market for less than a dollar. Most stores have reusable bags. Ask for them. Use them. You\u2019ll like them.[\/caption]\r\n\r\n<img src="https:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2019\/05\/DSCF0855.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="350" class="alignleft size-full wp-image-24463" \/>\r\n\r\nJaynell Graham\r\nEditor\r\n\r\nPeople of a certain age will remember Iron Eyes Cody, dressed in Native American garb who, in 1971, produced the most famous tear shed in a TV advertisement. The ad showed him paddling his canoe on clean, tranquil water. Pulling his boat ashore, he walks to a highway where a passerby throws a bag out a car window. The bag explodes and spills fast food wrappers at his feet. Then we heard a statement that is still true today: \u201cSome people have a deep abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country. And some people don\u2019t.\u201d\r\n\r\nThat ad was the beginning of the Keep America Beautiful anti-litter campaign.\r\n\r\nGreat strides have been made since then in corralling litter \u2013 through mandatory disposal laws and recycling programs. But, still, we see litter along our highways and waterways. Perhaps the most troubling are plastic bags.\r\n\r\nDriving through Marlinton last week, I saw a plastic grocery bag hanging in a tree on the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue. It was even more offensive, given the beauty of the colors surrounding it, heralding the emergence of spring.\r\n\r\nBut it\u2019s not just the one bag on Main Street that is the culprit.\r\n\r\nIn the 1990s, then Pocahontas County 4-H Extension Agent Tracy Samples wrote a column for The Pocahontas Times titled Clover Chatter.\r\n\r\nIt made sense then. It makes even more sense now.\r\n\r\nSamples wrote:\r\n\r\n\u201cOne of my weekly duties as a child was to burn the trash. I liked to burn trash.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt was fun to watch the milk jugs melt around a tin can or last year\u2019s Christmas catalog go up in smoke. It was also fun to be trusted with a book of matches.\r\n\r\n\u201cBut, you can\u2019t burn your trash anymore.\r\n\r\n\u201cGarbage is now someone\u2019s occupation, not a child's weekly chore.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn fact, there are lots of things children don't have to do anymore.\r\n\r\n\u201cEither the old chores don\u2019t exist, or they\u2019re considered to be too dangerous now.\r\n\r\n\u201cI asked my dad what they used to do with their trash and he said he never remembered there being any. He said that folks used to just use things over and over again.\u201d\r\n\r\nThink about that for a minute.\r\n\r\nHow did our society go from having little to no trash, to filling dumpsters and landfills, and polluting the oceans with no thought of the long-term effects on the environment and aquatic life?\r\n\r\nAs the \u201cKeep America Beautiful\u201d ad pointed out, there are people who just don\u2019t care about the natural beauty of our country. But, hopefully, the percentage of those who do care will continue to increase.\r\n\r\nLet\u2019s look at plastics.\r\n\r\nAccording to an article in Sustainable Businesses Resources, \u201cevery year we use approximately 1.6 million barrels of oil just for producing plastic water bottles. Plastic waste is one of many types of waste that takes too long to decompose. The plastic bags we use in our everyday life take 10 to 1,000 years to decompose, while plastic bottles can take 450 years or more.\r\n\r\nPlastic bags are everywhere \u2013 in nearly every store.\r\n\r\n\u201cPlastic bags are made from ethylene, a gas that is produced as a by-product of oil, gas and coal production. Ethylene is made into polymers (chains of ethylene molecules) called polyethylene. This substance, also known as polyethene or polythene, is made into pellets which are used by plastic manufacturers to produce a range of items, including plastic bags.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou have probably noticed that there are two types of plastic shopping bags - the lighter, filmy bags you get from supermarkets and other food outlets, and the heavier bags you get from other retail outlets, like clothing stores. The supermarket bags are made from high density polyethylene (HDPE), while the thicker bags are made from low density polyethylene (LDPE). Unlike HDPE, LDPE cannot be recycled.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe problem is worldwide.\r\n\r\nWhile plastic bags may not be the most high tech application of plastics technology, it is certainly one of the most prevalent. According to Clean Up Australia, Australians use in excess of six billion plastic bags per year. If tied together these bags would form a chain that is long enough to go around the world 37 times.\u201d\r\n\r\nThat\u2019s frightening, but consider what is happening in the U.S.\r\n\r\nAccording to biologicalad versity.org, \u201cAmericans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture. It only takes about 14 plastic bags for the equivalent of the gas required to drive a car one mile. The average American family takes home nearly 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.\u201d\r\n\r\nSo, what can you do?\r\n\r\nWell, first, you can get a collection of reusable grocery bags \u2013 even net bags for produce, so you don\u2019t have to use the plastic in the produce section of the store.\r\n\r\nNearly every store sells reusable bags for about $1, and some businesses offer them for free.\r\n\r\nNot only do these bags hold a lot more than their plastic counterparts, they are much easier to carry and they don\u2019t clutter up your home.\r\n\r\nSeveral people have said they have reusable bags, but they forget to put them in their car.\r\n\r\nThat\u2019s easily remedied.\r\n\r\nFold the bags and put them all into one. Set it by the door and take it to the car on your next trip out of the house.\r\n\r\nYou will be amazed at how convenient these bags are, and how quickly you will become offended by the use of plastic bags.\r\n\r\nWhile we\u2019re on the subject of changing our ways \u2013 why not get a reusable water bottle and quite lugging home heavy cases of bottled water. And, why not take reusable plastic containers to restaurants for your leftovers? Reusable plastic containers are easier to transport and will keep your leftovers fresher, and you won\u2019t have to dispose of those bulky styrofoam containers.\r\n\r\nThe employees at Pocahontas IGA say they have noticed an increase in the number of customers bringing their own bags to the store. \r\n\r\nIGA also offers paper bags as an alternative to plastic. Just ask for them.\r\n\r\nI can\u2019t let an opportunity go by without recommending, what I believe to be, an informative and \u201chabit changing\u201d book.\r\n\r\nIf you want to go a bit further in improving your health, your way of life, while reducing dependance on fossil fuel, I suggest you read Barbara Kingsolver\u2019s book, \u201cAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle.\u201d\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s the story of the Kingsolver family\u2019s journey from the industrial-food pipeline to a rural life in which they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves or learn to live without it \u2013 and there are no plastic grocery bags.\r\n\r\nWhy not make some changes for the better?\r\n\r\nLet\u2019s try to wipe away Iron Eyes Cody\u2019s tear.