It’s time to ditch the plastic and go green.
The production and consumption of plastic bags has a huge impact on our planet’s ecosystem. Plastic bags are a drain on our nation’s oil supplies, harmful to the environment and very obsolete. Plastic bags are made from petroleum, a precious natural resource that can not be replenished once diminished. It takes roughly 430,000 gallons of oil to produce just 100 million plastic bags. Here in the United States, we go through 380 billion plastic bags a year. During this current climate of rising gas prices and growing renewable energy concerns, the production of plastic bags is a waste of precious crude oils. In an article released in 2008 by enviornmental conservation agency Food Democracy.com it was reported that, “In 2001, Ireland consumed 1.2 billion plastic bags, or 316 per person. A plastic bag consumption tax, 37 cents per bag, introduced in 2002 reduced consumption of plastic bags by 90%. The outright ban of plastic bags in Ireland led to the saving of approximately 18,000,000 liters of oil. In countries with booming industrial economies such as China, a complete ban on plastic bags is expected to save 37 million barrels of oil each year.” Governments are increasingly becoming aware of the fact that consumerism and plastic bag waste go hand in hand and environmental policies must be implemented to create a sustainable future. In an article written in 2011 by Greenhome.com, “plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to degrade.” As the decades pass, the plastic bags begin to release toxic remnants of polyethylene film into the surrounding soil.Through a very slow and oxic process known as photodegradation, plastic bags break down pice by pice into toxic particles that contaminate both soil and water. Not only do the plastic bag particles make the soil around land fills toxic, but they also negatively affect the plant life nearby. Plastic bag particles block the natural flow of air and water between the roots of plants and the soil that feeds them. With out the proper amount of nitrogen and oxygen in the soil below them, trees and farmland suffer. As a nation we must change our mental approach to how we transport bought goods form retail stores to our homes. If large scale retail chains would start to promote customers using their own re-usable tote bags brought from home, retail stores could actually save money on the cost it takes to buy more plastic bags. In a study conducted by Plastic Pollution Coalition.com in 2010 it was concluded that, “The cost of plastic bags is 3-5 cents which is buried in the purchase price of your groceries or consumer goods. Then, there is the clean up cost for plastic bag pollution… The cost of clean up amounts to 17 cents a bag, that translates to the average taxpayer paying about $88 per year on plastic bag waste.” Plastic bags were invented in the 1950’s as a means to help customers transport their purchases from stores to their homes. Since the middle of the 20th Century our planet has experienced huge population growth and changes in our oil supplies. We must move forward from our archaic reliance on plastic bags and promote re-usable and green alternatives in our shopping culture. By doing this we can save millions of barrels of oil a year and also save the integrity of our farmlands and ecosystems. Although, first we must decide for ourselves to take the initiative and create a better future for ourselves and future generations.