Judging from the worldwide bag ban map above from Factory Direct Promos, people all over the world are getting the message that single use plastic bags are not the best thing for our future health and sustainability. Still, there are many people who are getting the message that they should go reusable with their bags but there is still some confusion as to the “why” behind the message.
Here are the Top 10 Reasons to Choose a Reusable Bag:
- It is estimated that 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed each year worldwide – this works out to over 1 million bags per minute. Americans throw away about 1 billion plastic bags a year, which is equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.
- Because plastic bag manufacturing requires the use of non-renewable fossil fuels, their manufacturing releases toxic byproducts from the chemical processes.
- Plastic bags are not biodegradable. When plastic bags become litter they pollute oceans, rivers, farm land, cities and neighborhoods. Going reusable eliminates plastic bag litter which means less litter and less pollution.
- In the United States only 2 percent of plastic bags used are recycled. That means a whopping 98% of plastic bags are tossed into landfills or worse. To make matters even worse, recycling plastic bags is very difficult as the bags get caught in the machinery, resulting in loss of productivity, and requiring constant supervision.
- The United Nations Environment Program estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean and we are just starting to understand the impact of this plastic pollution on the food chain.
- Discarded plastic bags can collect rain water and serve as breeding grounds for mosquitos. These insects at best are irritating nuisances, but they can also carry West Nile and Triple E virus.
- Marine animals oftentimes mistake discarded plastic bags as jelly fish or plankton – both food sources. When consumed plastic bags can cause illness or death. A million sea birds and 100,000 animals such as whales, dolphins, turtles and seals die from plastic bags and other waste each year.
This can also be harmful to animals further up the food chain – like us!
- Plastic bag litter can clog drainage systems. In Brownsville, Texas this caused major flooding after a hurricane passed through and in India, plastic bag litter has caused severe flooding that has resulted in human casualties.
- Retail businesses spend about $4 billion each year on plastic bags. Since stores have to factor the cost of disposable bags into their prices, eliminating plastic bags would cause prices to drop. Consumers could save up to $30 per year at the check out.
- On average, consumers use a plastic, single use bag for just 20 minutes before tossing it (98%) or recycling it (2%).
This is certainly one cause we can all get behind right? This holiday, let’s come together and give the gift of a plastic free world and vow to go reusable with our bags!
Sources: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/plastics.htm , http://www.ehow.com/facts_5552588_harmful-plastic-bags.html, http://www.factorydirectpromos.com/life-cycle-of-a-plastic-bag