The Plight of Plastic Bags

Walk into the checkout area of any major retail store or supermarket and you’ll see them, lined up the hundreds, just waiting to be filled with our purchases. They are plastic bags and almost every major retailer has them. They are a common part of consumer shopping around the world, but one of the most environmentally harmful items in existence.
Plastic Bag Basics
The basis of plastic bags is oil, a non-renewable resource, so you can already see why plastic bags are a problem. Using oil by-products, bags are made using a large amount of energy, many times from coal-burning. The oil is heated to very high temperatures, which separates it into moldable polymers. There are five types that come from polyethylene, or #4 plastic.
Can’t plastic bags be recycled?
The answer, technically, is yes. But, when the energy needed to recycle plastic bags is taken into consideration and the quality of the end product is considered, the costs outweigh the benefits. Plastic bags have to be re-melted and re-cast, which according to the U.S. EPA, takes almost as much energy as virgin plastic, or two-thirds the amount of the original bags. The polymers in the plastic often break during the recycling process, creating a product of lower quality. So in short, plastic bag recycling isn’t very beneficial and uses a lot of resources on a limited return.
There are biodegradable bags made from food sources which will break down in compost piles and possibly, though very slowly, in landfills. Some, however, may say “biodegradable” but may actually contain recycled plastic and cornstarch. The cornstarch biodegrades, leaving little pieces of plastic, much like plastic “soup” floating in the ocean garbage patch. This creates a hazard for animals or fish mistaking the plastic for more information food and still means plastic pollution.
Are Paper Bags Better?
Paper bags hold more, on average, than plastic bags and can be recycled, or reused for other things (wrapping paper, book covers, etc). But before you choose paper over plastic, realize that recycling paper bags also use a large amount of energy-even more energy than plastic bags do-and create more waste during their overall life cycle.
Resuable Bags are the Real Answer
The only way to cut down on the number of plastic and paper bags is by NOT using them. Purchase a couple of reusable bags from the places you shop. Most stores sell them for a dollar each and you’ll get a big return on a small investment by reusing them over and over again. Reusable bags hold more and are sturdier than any paper or plastic. Think it’s tacky to bring a reusable Market Basket bag to Wal-Mart? It’s not! It’s eco-friendly and saves plastic waste, much of which is floating in our oceans or sitting in landfills somewhere for eternity.
Want to be a little more stylish? dragon city hack 2017 There are several companies that sell grocery bag sets in colorful, stylish patterns. Reusable produce bags are also available.
The only complaint most people have about reusable bags is remembering to pack them. Leave them in your car after you shop so they are there for your next trip. If you must use plastic bags, ask employees to pack them as full as possible, and only use them when absolutely needed. Employees are trained to bag EVERYTHING out of courtesy to their customers, but we can be courteous to the environment by carrying smaller items without a bag and refusing plastic bags. Plastic bags can also be reused multiple times for grocery shopping or carrying other things. The important step in reducing our dependency on plastic bags is taking less of them out of the store each time and resuing the ones we already have.
One important note: it’s a good idea to wash your reusable bags in between shopping trips, especially if you are buying meat products. There’s some debate as to whether or not reusable bags carry E. Coli or other bacteria.
While Bill AB 1998 or the Plastic Bag Ban Bill, failed in California, many cities in the state and in other parts of the world have implemented their own plastic bag bans. lords mobile hack cheats Other places have started charging for each plastic bag used and have seen a decline in the amount of bags shoppers take away. Some large retailers have stopped giving out plastic altogether. Hopefully more locations throughout the United States and the world will also reduce their plastic bag consumption.