A few months ago, someone at work emailed this slide show on plastic bags which began a long thread of conversation on reducing, reusing and recycling plastic bags. The facts on the slide show (not to mention the photographs) and consequent emails on additional facts and suggestions on what to do with plastic bags really struck a chord and I've since made an effort, albeit an imperfect one, to bring my own bags when shopping at the store.
The EPA has reported that 500 billion to a trillion plastic bags are used world wide EACH YEAR (over 380 billion are consumed in the US annually) and only 1% of those bags are SUPPOSEDLY recycled. There is a growing trend is to ship plastic bags to Third world countries like India and China where they are cheaply incinerated under more lax environmental laws instead of being recycled. (Reusablebags.com)
Plastic bags are created from polyethylene (thermoplastic made from oil) and photodegrade (a process where sunlight breaks the plastic down into smaller pieces) into smaller, more toxic petro-polymers which contaminate our soil, rivers and oceans. It is estimated that one plastic bag will remain on the earth for 1,000 years.
Plastic bag litter account for the deaths of over 200 different species of sea life including birds, turtles, dolphins, whales and seals. Not only do these animals get fatally trapped in plastic bag trash (again, look at the slide show, photos are an eye opener) but many mistake this litter as food and die after ingesting the plastic.
Using one cloth bag will save 6 plastic bags each week/24 plastic bags each month and 288 bags a year. If one out of 5 people used their own bags, we would end up saving 1,330,560,000,000 bags over our lifetime.
So what can you do? Get into the habit of taking cloth bags to the store. Schnucks, Dierbergs, Walgreens, Target and many other retail stores now offer recyclable bags at an affordable cost, usually just a dollar per bag.
Try biodegradable bags such as Biobag. Biobags offer an array of trashbags made from corn instead of oil. I recently bought a box of biobags. I'll let you know what I think of the product soon!
And for the craft-minded, there are some websites that offer creative ideas on what to do with those plastic bags sitting in the corner of your kitchen.
Again, I want to credit Poconorecord and ResuableBags.com They provided me with the eye opening facts on plastic bags.