Reusable Bags Can Make a Big Difference in the Green Movement
If you are still on the fence about whether you should carry your own reusable bags to the grocery store or whether you will continue to succumb to the convenience of using disposable paper or plastic bags, you may be surprised to learn how making this simple switch can change the world around you. A little inconvenience now can have a monumental impact on the planet and the humans and animals that populate it. Consider the negative impact of reliance on disposable paper and plastic bags for toting your groceries and department store items.
Plastic Bags Consume Petroleum Products
The amount of oil required to produce 14 plastic bags is equivalent to the amount of oil it takes to drive your car for one mile. While this may not sound alarming, consider the fact that Americans use an estimated 100 billion plastic bags a year. Manufacturing the bags accounts for 12 million barrels of oil to provide Americans with the convenience of plastic bags.
Plastic Bags Contribute to Pollution
The vast majority of plastic bags end up in landfills or the ocean. While Americans have made progress with recycling efforts, it is estimated that only 1 percent of the plastic bags used in the U.S. are recycled. To put that into perspective, consider that a giant garbage heap known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that floats off the coast of California and stretches nearly to Japan is made up almost entirely of plastic. This swirling vortex of plastic debris is twice the size of the United States. It takes 15 to 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose, which means our landfills and oceans are collecting discarded plastic bags faster than they can decompose.
Plastic Bags Endanger Wildlife
Plastic that finds its way to the ocean and other waterways, or that washes up on shore, poses a serious risk to birds and wildlife. It is estimated that 1 million birds and 100,000 whales, turtles, seals and other marine animals lose their life to plastic every year. Plastic bags are a major contributor of plastic waste, and so they are part of the problem.
Paper Bags Kill Trees
While paper bags decompose relatively quickly and don’t contribute to pollution in the same way that plastic bags do, they kill trees and consume water and energy. One tree can produce enough paper for 700 paper bags, which would supply a busy supermarket for roughly an hour. This translates to 6 million paper bags for each supermarket per year. That amounts to a chopping down a whopping 8,571 trees per year just to supply paper bags for one supermarket. To put the impact of the destruction of trees into perspective consider that two mature trees provide enough oxygen for a family of four. That means the trees needed to provide one supermarket with paper bags will provide enough oxygen for more than 2,000 families.
Using reusable shopping or grocery bags instead of relying on disposable paper or plastic bags helps the environment, saves the lives of countless birds and wildlife and reduces the amount of garbage in landfills and the oceans. This is just an example of how simple changes in your lifestyle can make a big impact on the environment. If you want to take things a step further, call Central Kentucky Fiber Resources for a free consultation to find out how your business can start its own recycling program.