1) DEPLETION OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Generally consisting of polyethylene, a synthetic substance produced from natural gas and petroleum, plastic bags lead to the depletion of these non-renewable natural resources. It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce the amount of plastic carry bags the US uses per year. You can imagine what it takes to produce all the plastic bags used across the world! Whereas paper bags made from recycled paper, help in reducing the burden on natural resources and would also put to better use the waste paper produced from multiple other industries.
2) ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS
Unlike paper bags which are bio-degradable, most polythene bags do not break down or disintegrate easily. A plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to decompose on land and 450 years in water, while a paper bag decomposes in 3-6 weeks time.
3) LESS THAN 1% OF PLASTIC BAGS ARE RECYCLED
A vast majority of the plastic carry bags are not recycled, as it’s cheaper to produce a new bag than recycle a used one. An average person uses about 350 to 400 plastic carry bags per year. The United States alone uses approximately 100 billion new polythene bags each year. According to the Wall Street Journal, only 1% of these are recycled worldwide. You can imagine where all this used plastic goes!!!They generally wind up sitting in landfills or tossed aside only to blow through the air or accumulate in water bodies. In South Africa, plastic bags have been dubbed ‘national flowers’, because so many can be seen flapping from fences and caught in bushes.
4) DANGER TO OUR ANIMAL AND MARINE LIFE
Countless polythene bags end up in oceans and harm our marine life. Many marine animals and birds mistakenly ingest these bags or get entangled and choke in bags floating around. Environmentalists pointed out that turtles often mistake them for jellyfish and swallow them. It is estimated 100,000 marine animals die each year because of plastic litter ending up in the North Pacific. Terrestrial animals too die from eating plastic. The plastic stays in their digestive system for a longer time, due to which they stop eating food and die of starvation.
5) CHILD SAFETY
A report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission notes that an average of 25 children die each year by suffocating on plastic bags. The majority of these children are under 12 months old. Plastic carry bags of all sizes pose a safety hazard for children, including grocery, trash, dry cleaning and mattress cover bags even though many of them come with warnings, cautioning parents and caregivers to keep them out of reach of children.
6) PLASTIC GETS BACK INTO OUR FOOD CHAIN
With over 1 million tons of plastic carry bags being produced and discarded each year, and only about 1% being recycled the rest of the plastic bags are lying in our landfills and oceans. This plastic which is being consumed by marine animals unknowingly has in turn entered our food chain.
7) PLASTIC BAGS CLOG DRAINS AND RESULT IN FLOODING
On average, a plastic carry bag is used for 12 minutes before disposal, after which it can last in the environment for centuries. In most countries where there is no strict enforcement of environmental regulations, plastic bags are a major eyesore. Easily carried by the wind, they hang in bushes, float on rivers, flap from fences, and clog drains. This has led to the blockage of drain water, preventing free flow during heavy rains and resulted in the flooding of various cities.
We should care for our environment. Let’s pledge to carry our own shopping bags, if not at least insist on a paper bag. Say no to plastic bags.