Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Problem with Plastic Bags

Most of us accept them without thinking twice. We give our groceries to the clerk and she automatically puts them in a plastic bag. Usually a lot of them. Items already in a sack, like a bag of potatoes, get put in another bag as well. It's so commonplace, everyone does it, and no one seems to think about the consequences.

And there are many consequences. Over a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. Only a very small percentage are recycled.  That leaves an enormous amount of plastic floating around our Earth. Many end up in landfills, where it will take up to a thousand years for them to break down. Hundreds are blowing around your town right now, ending up in trees or sewers. More are in our oceans and streams where they kill marine life. Even when the plastic does degrade, its' remnants contaminate the water and soil.

Many countries have taken action by either banning or taxing plastic bags. A few are China, Australia and Ireland. In the United States, several cities are taking action as well, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and The Outer Banks in North Carolina. Many more have legislation in the works. This movement is not going to go away. Plastic bags create too many environmental issues and cost retailers thousands of dollars. The best alternative is to get reusable bags and to use them. Most stores sell them for a low price or you can make your own. Take an old pair of jeans or a t-shirt, cut them up, and sew three sides together to make an up cycled bag. If you can't sew, pull out the glue gun. There really is no reason not to do it. Once you get in the habit of carrying reusable bags with you, you'll soon forget those flimsy, toxic plastic bags. Our world depends on each of us to think and make a conscious decision about what's important to us- destructive convenience or the future of our planet and wildlife.

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