12.10.2012

6 Say NO to Plastic Bags!

I vividly remember going to the grocery store as a kid. The threats of being taken home if we misbehaved, getting to pick 1 "healthy" treat (I always seemed to pick Raisin Bran) and our groceries always being packed in crisp brown paper bags.

So I have to wonder...why did stores move to plastic bags from paper bags? Was it because in the movies people are always suffering from the dreaded paper bag bottom fallout? Eggs and milk everywhere! Yet, did this ever happen in real life? Did stores switch to plastic because they were indestructible and could hold up against wet food, thawing food and liquids? That really should have been a warning sign shouldn't it have?

Plastic bags will not biodegrade but if exposed to sunlight the polyethylene chemical structure will start to crack and break. Some sources cite that it will take 500 years for this process to finalize, others say it is closer to 1000 years. But how many discarded plastic bags do you really think are exposed to sunlight? Most are sitting buried in a landfill or are floating in our oceans.

Check out this Plastic Bag Ban Map from Factory Direct Promos. Click through to see more detail

Many cities around the world are implementing plastic bag fees or full on bans.  Here we have to pay 5 cents for plastic bags in a grocery store. Some other stores have followed suit but it is rare to have to pay outside of a grocery store. Just a few months ago I was at Marshalls buying my first pair of skinny jeans and the cashier started to put them into a plastic bag. I stopped her and told her I had a reusable bag. She looked at me funny and said "But it is free!". I explained that I realized it would not financially cost me anything but that I do not use plastic bags and had my own bag for her to use. She explained that most people will take as many as they can so they can use them at home. She said that she does this everywhere she can get them for free, so she doesn't have to ever buy plastic bags. We are living in a world where people are excited over free plastic bags. How on earth can we possible break that thought process and convince people to spend money on reusable bags? Check out these stats from Factory Direct Promos!

* 1 million plastic bags are used every minute worldwide
* In the US in 2010, only 8% of consumed plastic bags were recycled
* Americans throw away 1 billion plastic bags/year. which is equivalent to 12 million barrels of oil

So I have to ask with that last stat....why is it okay to throw out a plastic bag...oil in a non-virgin form...but it is not okay to throw away barrels of oil? Why do people freak out over an oil spill in the ocean but are okay with that plastic bag that blows away at the beach?  Oil is oil right?

We need more cities with plastic bag bans. Not just a nominal 5 cent fee. We need full on bans. We need to lobby our government officials to take a step in the right direction. We need to use our buying power too. Don't accept plastic bags, always bring your reusable bag...carry your goods in your arms if you need to! Just stop saying yes to plastic! 

Don't be fooled into thinking all reusable bags are environmentally friendly. A lot on the market are actually made with some form of plastic. Look for options like organic cotton or hemp. If you can't find those options then look for a company that has the same values that you do. I personally like Chico Bags. Again, the most environmentally friendly solution may be to not buy anything at all. How many reusable bags do you already have in your home? We have them from conferences and take-out chinese food so we really did not need to buy too many of our own. Don't forget to replace plastic produce bags too with reusable options!

Check out the Plastic Bag Ban Blog Carnival to see what others are saying!

Do you think plastic bag bans can be successful? Do you think plastic bag usage fees really work?

Related Posts - Check them Out
I used to use a plastic bag as a school bag
Think the oil spill doesn't affect you?
Kicking the Plastic Habit: A Journey to Becoming Plastic Free

6 comments:

  1. You are pretty passionate about this! I had no idea but I must say I am impressed. I am so happy you took time to share your thoughts on bag bans because this is one area we can all make a difference. I especially like the correlation you draw between folks being upset about the oil spill and perhaps not knowing that oil is being used to make plastic bags. It is a powerful point.

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  2. I think I am passionate about it because it just doesn't make sense to me. It seems like such an easy environmental problem to fix.

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  3. I love our plastic bag ban here in San Jose! The mandatory 10 cent charge for paper bags helps me remember to bring my reusable bags b/c I am seriously cheap. There are signs in many parking lots reminding folks to bring their reusable bags -- love it.

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  4. Signs in the parking lot is a fantastic idea!

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  5. I think plastic bag bans will be successful. I think they are already successful. Growing up in Europe, I remember when we always brought our own bags to the grocery store. Now they're going through the same thing where people are hoarding the plastic bags.

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