Topic of Discussion: Plastic Bags
Jackson Miles, Ocean and Co. Blogger
This blog post marks the first of a series that seeks to inform readers on the hazardous, environmental impacts of specific single-use plastics. In this first edition, we will discuss the detrimental effects of plastic grocery bags on our oceans and even our climate!
In one of our previous blog posts, we discussed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mass of floating plastics that covers 1.6 million sq. km, an area twice the size of Texas. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, approximately 80 percent of ocean plastic enter the ocean from land. The source of this ocean pollution comes from the various plastics we use on a daily basis.
Consider the plastic grocery bag. When families leave the super market, the clerk scans all their items and places all their groceries in single-use, plastic bags. These single-use bags are sometimes recycled, but the overwhelming majority find their way into our landfills and even our oceans. In fact, according to Waste Management, only 1% of plastic bags are recycled. The Center for Biological Diversity states that the average American household uses approximately 1500 plastic bags a year. Even more troubling is the statistic that Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year; this means that approximately 99 billion plastic bags are finding their way into our landfills and oceans. As an oceanic researcher and blogger, I have to say that the latter statistics are some of the most difficult measures I have ever had to ponder. Once plastic bags enter our ocean, they eventually breakdown into smaller fragments or micro-plastics and are often ingested by marine life.
The detrimental effects of plastic bags are not just limited to the oceans and ecosystems of the planet. Adverse externalities associated with producing plastic bags are currently taking a toll on our climate; the Center for Biological diversity further reports that it takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce the 100 billion plastic bags annually used by Americans; this level of production produces incomprehensible levels of CO2 emissions, driving climate change to even further extremes.
As an environmental and oceanic advocate, Ocean and Co. urges all its customers and supporters around the globe to take immediate action and pledge never to use a single-use plastic bag again! Though the feat may seem unfathomable, collective measures must be taken. Instead of taking the easy way out next time you go to the super-market, bring a few of Ocean and Co.’s very own Expandable Grocery Totes. Let’s stop the problem of pollution at its very source and eliminate our use of plastic grocery bags!