Saturday, September 1, 2012
There’s been a lot of talk all over the media in recent years about the effect of plastic bags on the environment. Many large supermarket chains and even your local corner shop are now not offering plastic bags readily, keeping them out of sight under the checkout as a deterrent so that customers actively have to request them if they need them. Countries such as Ireland and Canada charge a fee for each bag and there are plans afoot to outright ban their use in many places. But why are plastic bags so bad, and what can be done about it?
What Are The Environmental Concerns?
Plastic bags do not biodegrade, so they clog up landfill sites and as they break down they release chemical pollutants into the earth. Burying rubbish is not a long term solution as the vast amount of material does not break down and we constantly need to increase the number and size of landfill sites to accommodate human waste.
Because plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they can clog up waterways and can become caught in hedges and trees; not only is this very unsightly, mammals and fish can mistake them for food and swallow them, which kills thousands of animals every year.
Plastic bags are of course made from oil, which is a rapidly depleting natural resource that governments all around the world are working hard to become less reliant on.
And personally, I hate having tonnes of plastic bags stuffed into that drawer in the kitchen, so would welcome any reason to use less!
What Can I Do?
The simplest way to instantly make a difference is to begin reusing the bags you already have at home. Grab a bunch and take them with you when you do a big supermarket shop; that way you won’t add to the collection you have in the home and you’re also not depleting the supply at the store. Even if you’re just popping to the corner shop for some milk or bread, take a bag with you in case you make a couple of other small purchases and are tempted to use a bag.
Plastic bags of course can rip, tear and stretch easily so don’t last forever as a useable carrier; so invest in some canvas bags, paper bags or ‘bags for life’ – sturdier plastic bags that are replaced free of charge at supermarkets and last a long time. Natural materials are renewable and last a lot longer than anything made from plastic.
So now you know the impact that the use of plastic bags has on the environment, try to recycle the bags you have and switch to ethical carriers such as canvas bags to keep doing your bit to be greener.