It is important for people to examine how their actions are impacting the environment, possibly going so far as to change something in their current routine to help preserve and protect the environment. Things like using less water, eating more plant-based diets and reducing pollution.
Plastic bags are literally everywhere you look. They are floating in the oceans, tangled in trees, stuck in fences and filling landfills. Every year, an estimated 100 billion plastic shopping bags are disposed of in the United States, with over 1 trillion consumed worldwide.
One easy change everyone can make is to stop using single-use plastic bags. California and New York have already banned plastic bags statewide. Plastic bags are not only harmful to the environment and wildlife, but also affect human health. Check out the reasons below on why you should stop using plastic bags.
1. Plastic bags are made from non-renewable resources and contribute to climate change.
“The majority of plastic bags are made of polyethylene, a substance that is derived from crude oil refining and natural gas processing. Oil and natural gas are non-renewable fossil fuel-based resources and through their extraction and production, they emit greenhouse gases, which contribute to global climate change,” states Greentumble.
2. Plastic bags never completely break down.
Each plastic bag is typically used for a total of 12 minutes before being disposed. However, the plastic bag never completely degrades in natural environments. Instead, tiny pieces break off and end up in the soil, oceans, and stomachs of wildlife.
3. Plastic bags kill wildlife and marine life.
Birds, turtles, and other marine life mistake the plastic bags for food and eat them, which leads to the animal suffocating. Recently, a dead whale washed ashore with its stomach filled with 13 pounds of plastic waste.
“There will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050 unless people stop using single-use plastic items such as plastic bags and plastic bottles,” according to figures cited by the United Nations.
4. Plastic bags are harmful to human health.
You may not realize the plastic bag from the grocery store could actually end up in your food and water. Pieces of plastic have been found in human feces, but should not be a surprise since we eat seafood and drink tap water. Researchers estimate, “more than 50% of the world population might have microplastics in their stools.” While more research is needed, scientists believe the microplastics could stress the liver and cause toxins to enter the body.
5. Plastic bags are not easy to recycle.
While plastic bags can be broken down and molded into new products, the equipment and cost associated with it are very expensive. Not to mention, the plastic bags need to be clean in order to use them, which most are not. Instead the bags are filling up landfills and because of their light weight are picked up by the wind and carried off to other areas. The only solution is to stop using them completely.
Plastic bags are just part of the plastic pollution. There are still other many single-use plastics like straws and water bottles, but we have to start somewhere. “We have all played a part in this problem; we must all work on the solutions,” states Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly.
There are adorable reusable bags that many grocery and retail stores are selling to try and encourage their customers to ditch plastic. Take the challenge and be sure to share with your friends and family. Together we can make the world a cleaner and better place for all.
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.