Tuesday, November 03, 2009


An environmental television program was so shocking to me that I immediately changed the way I dealt with the plastic in my life.

Before seeing this program I had a huge collection of both paper and plastic bags. I had taken plastic bags to the recycle bins some stores provide. I had started to opt out of some plastic bags when my purchases were easily manageable, joking that I was ‘saving little plastic men’. Now I refuse all new plastic bags when I shop with the exception of the produce bags for small multiple items like green beans or bulk goods. I am reusing my collection of plastic and paper bags until they are unusable. They will then go to the recycle bin. When the collection is depleted I will sew up some bags or make some out of used newspaper. See how here: Ro's Newspaper Bag Project

I have also become more aware of how plastic goes into my garbage cans. I will rinse out a plastic milk carton and use it to collect all the different bits of plastic that I once tossed away without a thought; the strips that are torn off lunchmeat packages, used ziploc bags, used plastic wrap, or I might corral all the days plastic in a used ziploc or empty plastic peanut butter jar, I also try to use storage containers (I have been a huge ziploc bag fan for a long time) more for leftovers and such, you get the idea. I have also stopped using plastic straws and bottled water.

When I refuse plastic bags now, I say, “I am trying to save our world one plastic bag at a time. Everyone can help in some small way. Perhaps the following facts from an environmental blog that I found will have you thinking twice about the plastic in your life.

Environmental Impact of Plastic Bags

More and more people around the world are becoming aware of the environmental issues surrounding plastic bags. Considering their somewhat placid appearance, the impact of plastic bags on the environment can be devastating. Here are some facts about the environmental impact of plastic bags:

  • Plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year when animals mistaken them for food
    The manufacture of plastic bags add tons of carbon emissions into the air annually
  • In the UK, banning plastic bags would be the equivalent of taking 18,000 cars off the roads each year
    Between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year
  • Approximately 60 - 100 million barrels of oil are required to make the world’s plastic bags each year
  • Most plastic bags take over 400 years to biodegrade. Some figures indicate that plastic bags could take over 1000 years to break down. (I guess nobody will live long enough to find out!). This means not one plastic bag has ever naturally biodegraded.
  • China uses around 3 billion plastic bags each day!
  • In the UK, each person uses around 220 plastic bags each year
    Around 500,000 plastic bags are collected during Clean Up Australia Day each year. Clean Up Australia Day is a nationwide initiative to get as many members of the public to get out and pick up litter from their local areas. Unfortunately, each year in Australia approximately 50 million plastic bags end up as litter.

Fortunately, some governments around the world are taking the initiative to deal with the environmental impact of plastic bags by either banning plastic bags or discouraging their usage.

Perhaps you have some ideas on how we can help the world's plastic bag and garbage problem.