January 27, 2020

Are carrier bags an effective indicator of ecosystem health?

Lar MacGregor, 50

Ecosystems are weakly bounded and loosely organised. The notion of forest or ocean health can seem hopelessly vague and ambiguous. It embodies societal values and preferences and the more that people disagree on these values, the more contentious the concept of ecosystem health. Lichen is superficially simple. A fungi at heart, it has a continuing and varied romance with algae, to create around 17,000 recorded species in the UK alone. Kelp forests provide food and shelter for a host of sea life. They protect our coastlines from damage and capture an estimated 75% of the net carbon fixed annually, by the sea. Replacing these lower plant species with High Density Polyethylene, I am reimagining my surroundings; whether on a woodland ride or a shoreline. The ubiquitous carrier bag that pervades our society, seen as a symbol of power and identity, juxtaposes the needs and symbolism of one with the other. Exploring an alternative vision of the age of plastic can be overwhelming. Providing a platform for conversation and considering aesthetics and environment in this way feels more empowering, granting me access to hope: positive forward motion to elicit change in my life, one tiny action or observation at a time.

Environmental Plasticity, 2020High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)