Are Plastic Bags Killing us Slowly?

Apart from the atomic bomb, the other human invention that has continuously given us relentless headache is the plastic bag. Every year, millions of plastic bags are discarded onto our environment with very adverse effects. The one property that makes them popular, that is, their resistance to degradation, has turned around to make them a menace to the environment.

The extent to which the plastic bags are affecting the environment can be clearly seen when you look at the world’s water masses. With a lot of the discarded plastic waste being washed into the seas and oceans, marine life is slowly getting choked. Once the plastic waste is washed into the sea, it can be carried for thousands of kilometers.

Did you know that Americans discard up to 100 billion plastic bags every year? Well, that is how serious it is. To put you in the picture, this is equal to dumping 12 million oil barrels to the environment. As if that is not enough, studies are now showing that the colorings and ink used on these bags have lead in them, which as you know is a toxin.

Again, reports by the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation indicate that each year thousands of marine animals die after consuming or getting entangled in plastic. For the same reason, over a million birds die each year. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Scientific experiments have been conducted to determine how long it would take for plastic bags to degrade. The results have not been very pleasant. One Dr. Andrady did such an experiment to determine the time it would take for polyethylene to biodegrade. By using a live bacteria culture, he realized that it took a whole year to degrade less than 1% of the sample he had. This clearly shows how hard it is for plastic to biodegrade.

With the realization of the adverse effects of the plastic bags, many states and countries are now imposing plastic bag bans. Instead, shopping outlets are being encouraged to use reusable shopping bags. While some people and organizations are opposed to the banning of plastic bags due to the fact that they are cheaper than paper and that they are convenient to carry around, their impact on the environment cannot be ignored. Efforts have been made to encourage people to use eco-friendly bags. Most outlets are now using reusable shopping bags which are also known as green bags since they are eco-friendly. Green is the color of the environment.

The use of alternative bags is being encouraged. One of the most favorite options is the cloth bags which are largely reusable. Their impact on the environment is reduced as compared to plastic bags. Paper bags are another alternative, but environmentalists argue that this will encourage the cutting down of trees which again will adversely affect the environment. As such getting eco-friendly bags to replace the plastic bags becomes a serious balancing act.

There is a lot of information on the effects of plastic on the environment and possible solutions to this menace. If you need more information, we are willing to share it with you.

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