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The Devil Wears Plastic
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I say this light-heartedly, but I really do mean it….plastic bags are of the devil!

Friends, we are making a mess of our planet, and our ridiculous consumption of plastic bags is a huge contributor. Some countries have become so aware of the destructive impact these bags have on our environment that they have actually been banned. I can’t wait for that day in the U.S!

According to the U.S. Environmental Agency, the United States consumes up to a trillion plastic bags a year! Have you ever stopped to wonder where all of this plastic goes? Studies in 1975 showed that over 8 million pounds of plastic was dumped into our oceans…imagine what our ocean is like now, not to mention all of the plastic that gets blown around and ends up in our lakes and streams.

These plastic bags are causing a lot of damage to our environment. They are filling our landfills and oceans and take hundreds of years to break down …maybe even up to 1000. As they break down, they become toxic petro-polymers that seep into our soils and landfills putting more and more toxins into our environment.

In addition, thousands of marine mammals are killed every year because they mistake plastic bags for food or get tangled and suffocate in them. I hate the thought of this. If ever I have to use a plastic bag, I feel haunted by the fact that I could be contributing to the death of a sea turtle!

If you’re concerned about the world’s oil situation and our gross dependence on it, you may want to consider the fact that plastic bags are made from polyethylene which is an OIL based product. Every year, 60-100 million barrels of oil are used just to make all of the plastic bags that are consumed! Do you want to do your part to reduce your dependency on oil? Stop using plastic bags!

I was at the grocery store with a friend of mine the other day. She usually has reusable bags with her, but had forgotten them this time, so she had to get plastic bags. Fortunately, she recycles the bags, because when we got to the car we realized our thoughtful bag boy had been overly generous with them…going so far as to put one little pint of blueberries in its very own bag and double bagging each gallon of milk.

It’s disturbing to me how unaware our culture is of the impact plastic bags have on our environment!

Recycling plastic bags is a lot better than tossing them in the garbage, but consider that it still requires all of that oil to produce them in the first place AND who knows where they’re going to end up down the road. You may recycle them, but you’re just putting them back into consumer’s hands and eventually they’ll probably end up in our landfills and oceans. The only real solution is to stop using them.

Paper is an alternative to plastic, but according to the American Forest and Paper Association, the U.S. uses over 10 billion grocery bags in a single year! That’s a lot of trees we’re cutting down just to get our groceries home! Surely, there’s a better alternative.

I’m committed to completely weaning myself off of plastic and paper bags. Fortunately, many stores are offering reusable grocery bags now. Even Smith’s and Walmart (at least in some locations) provide reusable bags as an alternative to paper or plastic. I know it takes a while to get into the habit of keeping reusable bags in the car, but it gets easier with time. Personally, I’ve decided if I forget my bags, I’ll just have to buy another one because I’m not using plastic!

Next, I want to get myself completely away from plastic produce bags. Since mostly what I buy is fresh produce, I’ve found myself with quite a collection of produce bags. I’ve been able to cut way back on them by leaving the majority of my produce out of the bag. Who said you needed a separate bag for things like limes, oranges, apples, or zucchinis anyway? I’ll even leave greens out. Sure it gets a little messy, but it’s one less plastic bag I have to take home.

My biggest challenge for a while was the bulk section. Grains, nuts, seeds…can’t get away from bags there, so I started reusing my produce bags so that I don’t have to consume as much. Standing in the Whole Foods line, I noticed a woman with mesh produce bags, so I asked her about them and she told me she got them on Amazon. I bought myself a few, and they are great for produce and bulk products!

What I love about this, is that using reusable bags is an easy, simple way that EVERYONE can contribute to caring for our planet. Not everyone can ride their bike to work, not everyone can grow their own produce year round, but EVERYONE can decide to take a personal ban against plastic bags. It’s one small action that can make a big impact.

Street Talk

well said. I like it

  about 1 decade ago
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