This plastic bag's been stuck in a tree all year. What is it trying to tell us?

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This plastic bag is taking a very long time to leave this Minneapolis tree.

Nick Magrino's not even sure why he noticed it in the first place.

Maybe he was bitter.

Magrino remembers he'd been arguing with his friend Phil over Minneapolis' proposed ban on plastic bags, which the Minneapolis City Council had passed the previous spring. Magrino, who sits on the city planning commission (and occasionally writes funny things that appear on citypages.com) supported the ban on bags. "I hate litter," he says. 

Phil opposed the ban. 

Magrino was passing through the skyway in downtown Minneapolis one day last winter, either late 2016 or early 2017, when he saw a white plastic bag stuck up in a tree. Magrino stopped at the sight and snapped a photo. 

The result was certainly less awesome than the time a shot Magrino took of a foggy city went viral. But this one meant a lot to him.

This bag, hung up at where everyone could see it but no one could reach, looks a little like a white flag in the debate against getting rid of them.

Months passed. The seasons changed, and the skyway warmed. The downtown Target store on Nicollet Mall put up a sign warning its customers to get ready for the end of plastic bags.

Leaves sprouted on the tree's branches again. Republican legislators inexplicably moved to pre-empt Minneapolis' ban, which they did one day before the act would've taken effect. 

The bag remained, unmoved. 

Magrino, now even angrier about its presence, kept taking note of it on his walks, and stopped from time to time to take another picture. He took the last one in late October, and the day before Halloween, took his haunting little collage to Twitter.

These days, there appears to be less of the bag still clinging to this poor tree. It's not breaking down. It's breaking apart. 

"This bag will eventually deteriorate and fall out of the tree," says Magrino, who reports it's still there as of this moment. "But fragments of it will exist for hundreds of years and probably end up in the river and get eaten by a fish or something."

Or wind up in the Gulf of Mexico, which was found to have a "pervasive" microplastics presence in recent years. Magrino's not wrong on that "hundreds of years" figure, either. If anything he's playing it conservative.

Magrino was "disappointed" when legislators conspired to kill the bag ban -- "Big Plastic Bag has some killer lobbyists," he said -- and supported the proposed fee for customers using plastic bags, which the council considered, but voted down. 

That way, "at least people would have been more aware [of plastic bags]."

Then again, if we just stopped and took notice, like Magrino happened to one day almost a year ago, we'd all be more aware. And we would be pissed. 

 


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