The Problem with Plastic Bags
The ubiquitous plastic shopping bag, often used once & thrown away, uses up natural resources, consumes energy to manufacture, creates litter, endangers wildlife, adds to landfill waste, impacts human health and takes forever to disappear. Plastic is accumulating at an alarming rate in our oceans - wreaking havoc on wildlife, polluting our beaches and entering our food chain. Our addiction to use-and-toss items such as plastic bags and plastic bottles are a significant contributor to this growing problem. Of the 43 items tracked during Ocean Conservancy’s 2008 International Coastal Cleanup, the top three items of trash found were cigarette butts, plastic bags, and food wrappers/containers. The cost of manufacturing, transporting, dispensing & disposing of plastic bags is not apparent to the public who think they are getting something for free, and when something is free we tend to take it whether we need it or not. The Problem:
According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually at an estimated cost to retailers of $4 billion. *
The production of plastic bags requires petroleum and often natural gas, both non-renewable resources that increase our dependency on foreign suppliers. Prospecting and drilling for these resources contributes to the destruction of fragile habitats and ecosystems around the world. The energy needed to manufacture and transport disposable bags eats up more resources and creates global warming emissions. *
An estimated 8 billion pounds of plastic bags, wraps and sacks enter the waste stream every year in the US, putting an unnecessary burden on our diminishing landfill space and causing air pollution if incinerated. *
Plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. In fact, nothing completely degrades in modern landfills because of the lack of water, light, oxygen and other important elements that are necessary...
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