How many plastic bags do you think you go through in a day? A week? Plastic packaging is so overwhelming in our world; once I start noticing it, it’s hard to believe how many places I end up being involved in the plastic bag society. It’s not just grocery bags: think about zippered bags, bread bags, produce bags, diaper packages, bags that go inside boxes of food, bulk foods bags, newspaper delivery bags, garbage bags, and more and more. Apparently in America alone we throw away 100 billion in a year. That number is hard to even fathom.
I try to be really conscious of how many bags I (a) am responsible for bringing into production and (b) throw away, especially after only one use.
Why am I so worried about one little plastic bag?
Many people have seen the slideshow about the dangers of plastic bags at the Pocono Record via an email forward, but if you haven’t, view it here. It basically shows pictures of how many bags end up in landfills each year and all the myriad ways the waste can harm the environment, then demonstrates the 22,176 bags an average person would save by using 6 cloth bags per week. The most striking part is that it costs thousands of dollars more to recycle bags than they can even be sold for. No wonder they’re so hard to recycle! I am convinced of the importance of allowing as few new bags as possible to come into circulation as a result of my choices. I choose to avoid plastics!
Many sources cite the problem of petroleum as well. Plastics are made from petroleum, so in a nutshell, if we could reduce our consumption of plastics (not just bags), we could potentially reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and more importantly, decelerate our leeching of this natural resource from the earth.
Please see the World Watch Institute’s article on plastic bags, which ends with the worthy challenge: “Try to go at least one week without accumulating any new plastic bags. If every shopper took just one less bag each month, this could eliminate the waste of hundreds of millions of bags each year.”
See this week’s Monday Mission for more practical tips to reduce our plastic bag consumption!
Be sure to check out the original Food for Thought: Plastic Safety for People and Earth to learn about BPA, microwaves and plastic, “safe” plastics for food, and how long plastic takes to biodegrade vs. glass.
Looking for other Food for Thought?
- Antibacterial Soap
- Energy Use in the Kitchen
- Hand Sanitizers in the Home
- Olive Oil Primer
- How to Use and Store Flax
- How to Buy Safe Salmon
See the All Things Eco Carnival for more green thoughts!