Plastic Bags

13 Aug

I know that everyone does things a little bit differently, I just get so wrapped up I how I do things that I forget about what others do. I rarely take bags when I shop. I know it makes my mom a little crazy when I am in a department store but I’d rather combine my purchases into one bag.
Anyway, there are a lot of times that I go to food stores with my friends and I shocked at the number of plastics bags that anyone can use. First people will put all their fruits and veggies into different bags. Then they get plastic bags for their purchases and double bag the heavy or sharp things. I get that the bags are useful and reusable but no one can possible use that many bags. And they just get thrown out.
I don’t understand how some many people can care so little about the environment, while I care so much. I feel that bringing your own bag to the  food store is well advertised; so I wonder what it would take to get these people to use their reusable bags. I don’t think it’s the advertisements nor do I think that a five cent discount will help.
Plastic bags have a huge impact. We use them in such large quantities. They are cheap, reliable and mass produced, however they have negative qualities as well.

Plastic bags litter the landscape. Once they are used, most plastic bags go into landfill, or rubbish tips. Each year more and more plastic bags are ending up littering the environment. Once they become litter, plastic bags find their way into our waterways, parks, beaches, and streets. And, if they are burned, they infuse the air with toxic fumes.

Plastic bags kill animals. About 100,000 animals such as dolphins, turtles whales, penguins are killed every year due to plastic bags. Many animals ingest plastic bags, mistaking them for food, and therefore die. And worse, the ingested plastic bag remains intact even after the death and decomposition of the animal. Thus, it lies around in the landscape where another victim may ingest it.

Plastic bags are non-biodegradable. And one of the worst environmental effects of plastic bags is that they are non-biodegradable. The decomposition of plastic bags takes about 1000 years.

Petroleum is required to produce plastic bags. As it is, petroleum products are diminishing and getting more expensive by the day, since we have been using this non-renewable resource increasingly. Petroleum is vital for our modern way of life. It is necessary for our energy requirements – for our factories, transport, heating, lighting, and so on. Without viable alternative sources of energy yet on the horizon, if the supply of petroleum were to be turned off, it would lead to practically the whole world grinding to a halt. Surely, this precious resource should not be wasted on producing plastic bags, should it?

From Buzzle

I am very rarely in favor of new taxes, but personally I think that there should charge five cents for each plastic bag. I am not positive that this will act as a deterrent, but it’s worth a try. And it’s not like we don’t have other options. We can bring reusable bags to the market. So many stores sell these bags now. I have reusable bags from Target, Giant, Whole Foods, Macy’s and several promotion bags that I have gotten. And if I go to the store and don’t have one of my bags, or I purchase more food than will fit in my bag, then I take plastic bags and I reuse them. I use them to pack my lunch or as a trash bag.

I know  a lot of people reuse bags, but if you always get plastic bags then I do not believe that there is any way to use all of the plastic bags you are collecting. Everything is okay in moderation.


Posted by on August 13, 2009 in sustainability


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3 responses to “Plastic Bags

  1. ckempton

    August 18, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I agree. I know there is an argument to be made that trying to decrease the number of plastic bags used isn’t an impactful enough environmental issue to pursue, but I think this issue is important and worth pursuing mostly because it gets people thinking about consumption and use and waste and considering that there might be alternatives. Environmentalists know all this but as you pointed out above, the general public doesn’t. In the UK, Marks & Spencers reduced plastic bag consumption by over 80% by charging 5 pence per bag, so charging does work. Combined with other programs, bag use in the UK has dropped by 26% in the last couple of years. Yet, each Brit still uses 400 plastic bags per year! (Source:

  2. ckempton

    August 25, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I saw this little study on charging for plastic bags in Ireland and thought you might be interested:

    This is quoted from the New York Times:

    “In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts.

    Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog.”

    And I so wish people in London would get to the point that not cleaning up after their dog was socially unacceptable!

    • aaanimals

      August 26, 2009 at 12:09 pm

      Thank you for posting that link. It is very interesting and really puts the extent of the impact of plastic bags into focus. I can’t believe people in Ireland use an average of 342 bags per year. It makes sense, it just seems like so many. People are always telling me that they use their plastic bags for other things, but I can’t imagine a couple finding almost 700 extra uses for plastic bags.

      It’s good to know that a tax has proven to be effective in the past. I hope more governments decide to impose this tax, but studies have shown that social outrage is more effective than an tax.


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