Following the lead of cities like Seattle and San Francisco, Boston will ban plastic bags starting tomorrow. What might seem like an inconvenience to some shoppers is really an important step in the right direction of protecting our oceans and marine life.
Plastic bags have offered an inexpensive and convenient way for shoppers to bring home their goods from the store since their invention in the 1960s. But, they’re wreaking havoc on the environment. Check out these 5 reasons to say no to a plastic bag.
1. We use WAY too many.
Four trillion plastic bags are used every single year. But, some countries are worse than others - the average American uses almost one plastic bag a day, while the average Denmark resident uses just four plastic bags per year!
2. They have a short lifespan.
Plastic bags are used for an average of just 12 minutes, but take an estimated 500-1,000 years to break down in a landfill, all the more reason to switch to a reusable variety. (Not sure what reusable variety to get? Check out this list.)
3. They’re contributing to climate change.
Plastic bags are made from oil, releasing emissions into our atmosphere and contributing to climate change. Americans use 100 billion plastic bags every year, which require 12 million gallons of oil. The oil required for producing just 14 plastic bags is the same amount of gasoline that can power a car for one mile.
4. They’re rarely recycled.
Of the millions of plastic bags we use every year, only about 1% of them are recycled. Plastic bags can’t be processed at traditional recycling plans, so they aren’t accepted in most standard curbside recycling programs. That means 99% of plastic bags are ending up in landfills or in the environment. But, we can change that. Use this tool to find your local plastic bag drop-off location so the bags can be given a second life.
5. Marine life is dying.
An estimated 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags every single year. This year, a story about a pilot whale in Thailand dying after ingesting 80 plastic bags went viral. And because they’re so light, winds and currents are pushing them into unexpected places: Plastic bags have even been found in the Mariana Trench, the world’s deepest ocean trench.
Protect the ocean and marine life by skipping single-use plastic bags. Plan ahead and keep a small reusable bag in your purse, backpack, car, or by the front door so you can grab it every time you shop. Even small lifestyle changes like this can add up to make a big difference.