Single-use disposable plastic bags are causing more harm than good for the environment. Even though they are convenient to carry groceries, they are anything but convenient for the planet. When improperly disposed of, a plastic bag can easily be carried by the wind to our oceans. Due to their lightweight design, even if it was thrown out far from water, it can still end up in the sea.
The bags are not environmentally friendly to produce. They are usually made from crude oil or natural gas, both non-renewable resources. Additionally, hundreds of billions of bags are used every year. The amount is startling, and it means that over time, an insane amount of bags have been consumed. They have been designed as disposable rather than reusable, and people often do not recycle them.
Unlike other “disposable” products, plastic never truly degrades. It breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. These microplastics can absorb toxins, be consumed by marine life, and affect an entire food chain. Additionally, when the plastic is consumed, especially by birds and sea turtles, it cannot be digested. The plastic can stay in the animal’s stomach and block their digestive tract; they can die from starvation either by not eating, or not being able to digest their normal food.
Many people have realized the issues with plastic bags, thus sparking initiative to ban plastic bags. While it has not been introduced in every grocery store across the globe, there are hundreds of places that have made this change. In 2014, California was the first state to ban single-use plastic bags. Many other cities, states, and countries have either banned, or taken action to ban plastic bags.
Advocating for environmentally friendly solutions is important, and plastic bags do not fall under this category. There are petitions to sign and actions that need to be taken in order to spread the plastic bag ban. Even if you do not live in a place that has the ban, using reusable bags instead of plastic is a great way to start the process.