Did you know that over 1 trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year? And that the U.S alone uses 100 billion plastic bags annually?
Single-use plastic bags never fully biodegrade, the bags break down from the heat and sunlight into smaller pieces that end up in the soil and waterways. Living in a landlocked state, we do not have to worry too much about our trash becoming marine pollution, but for many coastal cities their trash becomes part of an array of trash gyres throughout the oceans. In some areas, plastic debris out number plankton six-fold and marine mammals are eating plastic instead and starving to death.
Taking a step back, the production of plastic bags also produces staggering amounts of carbon dioxide and requires the use of non-renewable petroleum products for manufacturing.
Plastic bags are largely under-recycled. Of the 1 trillion mentioned above only, about 1-3 percent are actually recycled, meaning that the rest are ending up in landfills or polluting the environment. Paper bags are not a sustainable alternative either. It takes four times the amount of energy to manufacture a paper bag that it does to produce plastic. One solution is to bring your reusable bag every time you go to the store.
One person can save 22,000 plastic bags in a lifetime by using a reusable bag. Global and local legislative initiatives reduce plastic bag production
and usage, and, instead, promote reusable bags as a viable, easy, and eco-friendly alternative to reduce plastic waste.
Every single piece of trash I throw away makes me ask questions about the future: “How am I contributing to the world? Are my kids going to have to clean up my mess?”
Though plastic bags are only a fraction of the trash we produce, they are unnecessary and can easily be eliminated from the waste stream. Next time you throw away a piece of plastic, know that it will be on this Earth when your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandkids are alive!
Don’t let your legacy be defined by the trash you leave behind. And remember, your small act makes a big difference.
- Emma Mermaid