Plastic Bag Facts
Plastic bags made of polyethylene commonly used as single use shopping bags are listed among dangerous polluters with a very serious long term impact on the environment, wildlife and overall on the future of our planet. Although plastic shopping bags have some advantages, like durability, strength and water resistance, their negative sides far outweigh the positive. Listed below are just some of the facts about plastic bags and reasons why their use should be reduced if not completely avoided.
Plastic bags are made of polyethylene which is made of petroleum - a nonrenewable resource. Americans use over 380 billion polyethylene bags per year. Worldwide, more than four trillion plastic bags are manufactured each year. It takes 13 million barrels of oil and more than a billion dollars to make 100 billion plastic bags. The amount of petroleum used to make 1000 plastic bag would drive a car more than five miles.
It takes up to 1000 years for a plastic bag to break down. Unlike cloth bags plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade. They break into smaller toxic bits. During the process toxic substances leach into the soil and enter the food chain. Since only 1% of all plastic bags are recycled and with the long break down period, plastic bags will continue to accumulate and pose a bigger and more serious environmental problem each year.
Plastic carrier bags kill large numbers of wildlife each year. Birds, turtles and various other animals ingest the bags and as a consequence die from intestinal blockages. After an animal that had ingested a plastic bag dies, it decays at a much faster rate than the bag. Once the animal has decomposed, the bag stays mostly intact and is released back into the environment, where it can be and often is eaten by another animal.
Plastic bags clog drains and waterways, creating a threat to the environment. Once in the water, they pose a threat to animals and cause a variety of problems including flooding.
Discarded plastic bags are an eyesore. Carried by the wind they end up in the parks, forests, streams, lakes, on the streets... Wherever they land they create litter making our environment less attractive and relaxing than it could and should be.
Plastic bags are not a necessity. With a bit of effort and adjusting on our part they can easily be replaced with reusable shopping bags. Over it's lifetime, a single reusable canvas bag will replace hundreds if not thousands of single use plastic bags. By using eco bags we protect the environment and create a better future for us and the future generations.
Last, but certainly not least important fact. Plastic bags are plain ugly. Why use plastic bags when you can carry a neat reusable canvas bag that looks good and helps you make a statement at the same time?