Goodbye, plastic bags!

It’s not always easy bein’ green, but you can make smarter decisions. Small, practical changes in your everyday life can make a big difference.

For instance, I have completely stopped bringing home plastic bags from the grocery store. I take reusable, canvas bags. Not only can you carry more in each one so you need fewer (I use about five for each “big” grocery store trip), but the bags are also much better for the environment than plastic.

More 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. While plastic bags weigh less and take up less landfill space then their paper counterparts, many plastic bags don’t end up in landfills. Scientists currently believe the world’s largest garbage dump isn’t on land—it’s in the Pacific Ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is roughly th size of Texas and contains about 3.5 million tons of trash!

In some places, the floating debris—estimated to be 90 percent plastic—goes 90 feet deep. Pieces of plastic outnumber plankton, the main food source for many sea animals, by a 6-to-1 ratio.

Plastic bags don't biodegrade, they photodegrade—breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest. Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.

I encourage you to check out this slideshow for a visual represntation of how using plastic bags affects the environtment.

What can you do?

  • Think twice about taking a plastic bag if your purchase is small and easy to carry.
  • Keep canvas bags in your home, office and car so you always have them available when you go to the supermarket or even clothing or other stores.
  • Ask your favorite stores to stop providing bags for free, or to offer a discount for not using the bags.
  • Encourage your local politicians to introduce legislation taxing or banning plastic bags. (A 2002 tax on platic bags in Ireland reduced consumption by 90 percent. San Francisco was the first U.S. city to outright ban plastic bags.)
  • Check out these Web sites for more information:

1 comment:

Diana Whitson said...

The use of canvas bags to go shopping is oh, so European. I'm glad the trend is catching on in the States. I bet I can count on one hand the times I used a plastic bag in Germany, and then it was probably being used for the fiftieth time!
Good blog!