Featured Image Credit: User Belgueblimohammed2013 via Wikimedia
By Emily Persico
Plastic bags are the number one consumer item in the world. If you’re an average American, then you consume more than 300 every year, each with the potential to kill fragile sea life including coral reefs, sea turtles, sharks, and birds.
As the numbers spiral ferociously upward, so too do the consequences. We now live in a world where 85 percent of sea turtles are either injured or killed by plastic, a world where tens of thousands of whales, birds, and seals are suffocated by plastic bags in our oceans each year. I live in a state where there is a ban on plastic bag bans.
We use plastic bags for an average of 12 minutes, but they continue to pollute the environment for up to a thousand years after. And if we’re going to consider where plastic bags end up, we might as well consider where they come from. Plastic bags are petroleum-based products, and they require 12 million barrels of oil to produce each year in just the United States alone.
Fortunately, countries around the world are curbing plastic bag use with effective legislation. Consequently, China is using 40 billion less bags per year. Ireland has seen a 94 percent decrease in plastic bag use. Mumbai, Mexico City, San Francisco, D.C.: cities everywhere are acting in unison to lessen their impact.
How are you lessening your impact? The Earth Policy Institute poses a revolutionary solution.
“Using this fossil fuel endowment to make something so short-lived,” they report, “which can blow away at the slightest breeze and pollutes indefinitely, is illogical—particularly when there is a ready alternative: the reuseable bag.”