The biggest problem with these plastic bags is that they are devastating to the environment. If they’re not recycled they end up in the trash, which then ends up in the landfill or is burned. Either way, it’s very bad for the environment. Burning them emits toxic gases that harm the atmosphere. And, if they end up in a landfill, it takes hundreds of years for them to decompose, a process which causes toxins to be released into our soil and oceans. It is also dangerous for sea birds and mammals. Ocean debris from plastic bags kill at least 1 million seabirds and 100,000 mammals each year.
Many countries are using creative ways to reduce the use of plastic bags and increase the use of “YOUR OWN BAG”. In the US this movement is called “Bring Your Own Bag”. Some countries have banned the use of plastic bags in stores and charge extra for paper bags or biodegradable bags. Countries like Ireland, apply an extra tax to customers using them. Both are good ways to reward customers who “Bring their Own Bags”.
San Francisco was the first city in the US to ban the use of plastic bags in 2007. Australians also reduced its use of plastic bags by 7 billion. In Bangladesh plastic bags have been banned since 2002, after they were found to have clogged drains and caused the 1988 and 1998 floods to submerge most of the country. Other countries in Europe and Asia are also taking strong measures to control this issue.
We should all make an effort to drastically cut down the use of plastic bags. I carry my own bags every time I go to the store. It's one simple way to go green. Do you and your parents “Bring your own bag” too?.
Facts about Plastic Bags
- Approx. 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. That’s more than 1,200 bags per US resident, per year.
- Thousands of marine animals and more than 1 million birds die each year as a result of plastic pollution.
- The United Nations Environment Program estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean.
- Plastic bags are often mistakenly ingested by animals, clogging their intestines which results in death by starvation. Other animals or birds become entangled in plastic bags and drown or can’t fly as a result.
- Paper production requires hundreds of thousands of gallons of water as well as toxic chemicals like sulfurous acid, which can lead to acid rain and water pollution.
- 10-cents of every dollar spent on groceries pays for packaging that you'll throw away.
sulfurous acid: A chemical that is harmful to the environment.
debris: waste or litter.
submerge: to flood.
clogging: causing something to get blocked.