Say No to Plastic Bags

As the first quarter of 2013 is coming to an end, we would like to review the progress on our resolutions for 2019. In our blog on ‘FIVE Easy Green New Year Resolutions’  posted on 23 Dec2015, one of the green resolution proposed was to Use Reusables in our Everyday Activities such as reusable biodegradable shopping bags.

One resolution that we can possibly stay true to easily is to STOP USING PLASTIC BAGS.

bb681ccd2ec97a775d8c0ee384075ee7Wreath of Plastic Bags

Let’s just make a commitment not to use any plastic bags whether it is for our trip to the grocery store, retail clothing store, book store, restaurants, etc. From the 1st of October 2105, all supermarkets in the UK imposed a 5p charge on plastic bags to discourage their use. But they are still easily available and the temptation is there to use one especially when you have forgotten to bring your reusable environment- friendly bag. The stores are also ever so eager to hand out plastic bags.

But most of the time, they are superfluous and avoidable. Sometimes, a plastic bag is just not necessary for that apple you are about to eat or that soda you are going to drink right away.
Before we reach out for that plastic bag, remember –

Over 100,000 marine animals DIE every year from PLASTIC entanglement!
“The leatherback turtle can keep itself warm in cold water, dive over 1000 meters below sea level, travel thousands of miles and gulp down a Portuguese man-of-war but is threatened by the inert plastic shopping bag" - Mrosovky, N. 1987

Why a NO to Plastic Bags

Plastic Bags are:

  • Made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource.
  • A serious litter problem since they are lightweight and hard to contain (blow around).
  • Non-biodegradable, breaking into smaller particles BUT never fully disappearing.
  • Mistaken for food by marine animals (particularly sea turtles).
  • One of the most numerous items of litter along with cigarette butts and Styrofoam.
  • A major part of waste in our landfills.

Plastics like diamonds, are forever!

 What should we do?

  • Bring your own reusable environment –friendly bag.
  • Ask for paper bag (holds 5 to 6 times more than a plastic bag).
  • Ask your merchant to promote cloth/paper or biodegradable bags (charge for plastic and provide incentives for cloth/paper or disposable biodegradable bags).
  • Encourage development of bags made from natural products such as cornstarch and soy. These are disposable but 100% biodegradable such as, Element carrier bags
  • Participate in a community/beach cleanup.

Many nations recognize this global problem and are making strong attempts to eliminate the use and productions of plastic bags. Many countries in Europe and Asia are attempting to eradicate plastic bags either by banning them altogether or by implementing a tax to decrease their use.

In Bangladesh, plastic bags have been banned completely since early 2002. They were found to have been the main cause of the 1988 and 1998 floods that submerged two-thirds of the country. The government is promoting bags made of jute, a natural fibre. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1974750.stm)

In 2001, Bombay council also eliminated the use of plastic bags because they littered the streets and clogged up the city's sewerage system. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1329600.stm)

In Ireland, a tax of 15 cents on plastic bags was introduced in March 2002. As a result, it is estimated that the plastic bags available at stores have been decreased by 90%.

The European Union: Member countries require manufacturers/producers of plastic bags and other plastic waste to take them back and recycle them.

Taiwan and South Africa: Both countries prohibit the thinner plastic bags. This encourages people to bring their own bags since retailers can't afford to provide the more expensive, thicker plastic bags for free.

Ultimately, the most effective way of reducing the amount of plastic litter in the environment is to reduce our consumption. We should not wait for our governments to tackle the problem of plastic bags. The change must come from us – the consumer.