By Fredrica Syren:
Do you know how often I have said those words? Plastic bags have been in our everyday life for quite some time now. We all love their convenience, but those darned plastic bags are everywhere, with no end in sight. The problem with plastic bags is that they have a relatively short life span. They are designed for short-term use and they almost never get recycled. Plastic bags clog up our landfills; and research shows that, because plastic bags are made from polyethylene, a petroleum-derived polymer that microorganisms do not consume, the bags may never fully decompose and will therefore stay in landfills forever. It’s estimated that from 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every day, then thrown into the trash.
Would you change your mind about using plastic bags if I told you that they were the killer of more than 100,000 marine animals each year? Or that they take between 400 and 1,000 years to biodegrade? It’s not the larger predator in the environment that animals should fear: it’s us. And our relentless, unnecessary obsession with using plastic bags.
I got used to saying “No plastic, please” and “No, thanks. I have a really big purse, so let’s save the planet today and skip the plastic.” I always found that people’s reactions to my non-plastic obsession were very positive. When grocery shopping, if my husband forgot the cloth shopping bags, he even went so far as to enlist the kids’ help carrying items to the car while he carried the heaviest stuff.
If everyone in the United States alone switched to reusable bags, more than 100 billion plastic bags could be eliminated each year. By making this easy decision, we can reduce the cost of cleaning up our environment and save tax money.
Ultimately, the buck stops with us, so one major change we can make is to say no thank you to plastic bags.