The Not-So-Fantastic Plastic Bag: How it’s Hurting Us
Plastic bags are everywhere! Everyday, we are handed countless plastic bags: when we go to the supermarket, at retail clothing stores, book stores, restaurants, etc. And while it’s true that plastic bags often offer us a modern convenience as they are water resistant, light and inexpensive when compared to paper bags, most of the time plastic bags are superfluous and avoidable. It seems as though store clerks are often eager to hand out more plastic bags than we need, and for any and all kind of purchases. Sometimes, a plastic bag is just not necessary for a single, small to moderately sized item or a soda that you are going to drink right away.
Questions We Should Ask Ourselves
• Is there any way I can take home fewer bags from the supermarket?
• Do I need a plastic bag for an item purchased that is already sufficiently packaged by the manufacturer?
• How can I arrange to bring my own shopping bags when making purchases?
The Sad Truth
It’s estimated that on average an individual uses around 130 plastic bags per year. Most of them go straight to our landfill and a very small percentage of plastic bags are actually recycled. By making a conscious effort to reduce our use of plastic bags we can significantly improve on all of the environmental problems stemming from their presence.
Only Ten Centuries to Decompose
Plastic bags are made from petroleum, which is a non-renewable natural resource. Therefore, the manufacturing of plastic bags contributes to the diminishing availability of our natural resources and to the damage of our environment from the extraction of petroleum. At the same time, plastics are hazardous to make. Pollution from plastic production is harmful to the environment. Finally, most plastic bags are made of polyethylene - more commonly known as polythene. These bags are said to take up to 1,000 years to decompose on land and 450 years in water.