Americans throw away almost 100 billion plastic bags every year, and only 1 percent to 3 percent are ever recycled.
What’s So Bad About Plastic Bags?
Plastic bags are not biodegradable. They clog waterways, spoil the landscape, and end up in landfills where they may take 1,000 years or more to break down into ever smaller particles that continue to pollute the soil and water.
Plastic bags also pose a serious danger to birds and marine mammals that often mistake them for food. Thousands die each year after swallowing or choking on discarded plastic bags.
Finally, producing plastic bags requires millions of gallons of petroleum that could be used for transportation or heating.
Consider a Personal Ban on Plastic Bags
Some businesses have stopped offering their customers plastic bags, and many communities are either considering a ban on plastic bags or have already implemented one.
Meanwhile, here are a couple of things you can do to help:
- Switch to reusable shopping bags. Reusable shopping bags made from renewable materials conserve resources by replacing paper and plastic bags. Reusable bags are convenient and come in a variety of sizes, styles and materials. When not in use, some reusable bags can be rolled or folded small enough to fit easily into a pocket.
- Recycle your plastic bags. If you do end up using plastic bags now and then, be sure to recycle them. Many grocery stores now collect plastic bags for recycling. If yours doesn't, check with your community recycling program to learn how to recycle plastic bags in your area.