What do boy bands and plastic bags have in common?


Back in 2000, NSYNC released a single called “It’s Gonna Be Me,” with Justin Timberlake singing what sounds like “It’s Gonna Be May.” JT has explained why he sang it that way but in the age of the meme, that line makes a comeback every year.

The late 1990s were the peak years for “boy bands” like NSYNC, but the concept has made a few comebacks over the years. Original-generation boy band fans are also happy to see their faves returning to the stage for reunion tours or surprise appearances.

Everybody loves a comeback, whether it’s a goofy meme or a group of returning pop stars. Humans are wired with an innate sense of nostalgia; specifically simpler times and more intentional ways of living. So perhaps it’s no surprise recycling, reusing, thrifting, and circularity have returned to popularity in recent years. Overall, recycling has continued to rise over the years, from only 6% in 1960 up to about 35% today.

People don’t like to see something they love tossed on the trash heap of history—figuratively, like a forgotten pop star, or literally, like products and materials making our lives better, which could be recycled rather than thrown away.

Come to think of it, boy bands and plastic bags have much in common.

The roots of a cultural phenomenon
Just like boy bands, plastic bags started as a cultural trend; in the case of plastic bags, it was all about saving trees and stopping deforestation due to the needs of the paper products industry. It takes one 15- to 20-year-old tree to produce just 700 paper bags.

The typical polyethylene grocery bag we’re all familiar with was invented in Sweden in 1965 and quickly took over the European market, reaching the United States in 1979. It climbed the charts like an NSYNC hit. These plastic bags were more durable than paper bags, and just like a hit single, they were meant to be used repeatedly, not thrown away.

Too much of a good thing
Can you really have too much of a good thing? If you were to ask the parents of boy band fans, they’d probably say yes, given the stacks of CDs their kids had back in the day. And in a way, the same could be said for plastic bags. In the beginning, bags were indeed reused the way they were intended. But as the decades passed and plastic bags became more of a household item, even the most frequently reused bags eventually made their way to landfills.

Streaming is the future
These days, boy band fans don’t need stacks of CDs. They can stream their favorite songs on any number of wireless devices. It took a while for the technology to get there, but it did. The same can be said for plastic bags. The technology and demand around manufacturing polyethylene bags grew faster than the technology and demand for recycling them. But we’re catching up there, too.

Today, we all understand the need for an effective recycling stream for all types of products, including plastics. Plastic has many incredible uses, but that doesn’t mean we must create new plastic. At PreZero, we’re committed to technology that recycles plastic bags and film so they can be used again and again—the way they were always intended to be.

Be part of the stream
Like the return of a good 90s boy ballad trending on TikTok, recycling is cool again and has the power to affect millions. Every time you put a plastic bag in the recycling stream, you’re part of the comeback effort to reduce litter, preserve resources, and help create jobs that support American families.

And always think twice before getting rid of a bag. Like a pop classic, has it truly outlived its usefulness? Quite often, the best bag is the one you already have.