The Info Is In The Bag

Are Plastic Bags Killing The Planet?

Posted July 13, 2015 eco friendly totesCollectively, people all over the world use 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags annually; that's 380 to 500 per person! Yes, that's a lot. It is wasteful. Most importantly, it is having a devastating effect on the environment. Producing just 100 billion plastic bags requires more than 12 million barrels of oil, and over 1 million sea mammals and sea animals, including birds and turtles, ultimately die from plastic bag use every year. The good news is that many U.S. states are already taking steps to use fewer plastic bags and reduce this impact. Here are some of the most common plastic bag alternatives:

Eco Friendly Totes
While plastic bag use is still the norm in grocery stores (accounting for 90% of all bags), more Americans are purchasing reusable, eco friendly totes. The totes, often cloth, can be used again and again and typically carry more groceries and/or food items. Shoppers may have even greater incentive to use these bags in some areas, where local governments have established a small fee for plastic bags (typically five to 20 cents) or even banned plastic bags altogether.

Biodegradable Bags And Paper Bags
Of course, shopping bag design and environmentally friendly bags are not limited to cloth. There are a few possible alternatives. First, researchers are working on 100% biodegradable plastic bags. There are a few problems. For one, landfills are almost always air-tight, and this biodegradable plastic requires air to breakdown. That means these bags, if they are disposed of properly and if there is any hope of them dissolving entirely, must go in proper receptacles. Another option is paper bags. Many view them as the lesser of two evils, especially if they are uncolored (meaning that they do not have harmful inks or dyes) and recyclable.

Single-use plastic bags are destroying the environment. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives. Reusable cloth totes, biodegradable bags, and paper bags are all more sustainable than plastic grocery bags.