The Effects of Plastic Bags on Wildlife

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The Effects of Plastic Bags on Wildlife

The prevalent usage of plastic bags contributes to wildlife death,

destruction of the planet, and many human well-being issues. Direct and

Indirect war on plastic Bags through Education of Children

Tag Words: Plastic Bags; Wildlife; Death; Planet; Environment; War on Plastic; Education Authors: Nicole DeMola, Zubair Kazi, Amanda Mortillardo, Liz Pusterla, Kristin Titus with Julie M. Fagan, Ph.D.

Summary

The overuse of plastic bags by Americans and people all over the world is impacting wildlife in a negative way. Many animals mistake the bags for food causing them to eat the bags which leads to imminent death. The world as a whole need to decrease the use of plastic bags in order to save many animals lives as well as the health of our planet. Our service project is incorporating lesson plans into local schools (Hillsborough School District) for Earth Day. We will be present on Earth Day to prepare and interact with the students. In doing this, we will spread the word of the problem of plastic bags and we will raise awareness while directly reducing the use of plastic bags through the actions of the children.

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The Issue: Plastic bags and their negative impact on the environment

One of the most common items in our modern world is the ubiquitous plastic grocery bag. Highly convenient, strong and inexpensive, plastic grocery bags are appealing to both customers and businesses as a reliable way to deliver goods from the store to home. However, there are several issues associated with the production, use, and disposal of plastic grocery bags which may not be initially apparent to most users, but which are nonetheless extremely important. Bags pollute streams, clog drains, and drift in the seas. According to one article there is a “plastic soup” that is twice the size of the United States located between Hawaii and Japan. The current of plastic bag moves around like a vortex in the ocean. If people continue to use plastic at the current rate the “soup” will double over the next decade. Since plastic is made to be durable, pieces of plastic half a century old have been found in the “soup.” The plastic is directly affecting our ecosystem and the wildlife that lives in it (Are Plastic Grocery Bags Sacking the Environment?).

Impacts on human health are perhaps the most serious of the effects associated with plastic grocery bags, ranging from acute health problems associated with emissions, to death. In 2005, the city of Mumbai, India experienced massive monsoon flooding, resulting in at least 1,000 deaths, with additional people suffering injuries. City officials blamed the destructive floods on plastic bags which clogged gutters and drains, preventing the rainwater from leaving the city through underground systems. Similar flooding happened in 1988 and 1998 in Bangladesh, which led to the banning of plastic bags in 2002. By clogging sewer pipes, plastic grocery bags also create stagnant water. Stagnant water produces the ideal habitat for mosquitoes and other parasites which have the potential to spread a large number of diseases, such as encephalitis and dengue fever, but most notably malaria (Health impacts of water pollution).

Most distressing, however, is that over a billion seabirds and mammals die annually from ingestion of plastics. In Newfoundland, 100,000 marine mammals are killed each year by

ingesting plastic. However, the impact of plastic bags does not end with the death of one animal; when a bird or mammal dies in such a manner and subsequently decomposes, the plastic bag will again be released into the environment to be ingested by another animal. Here are some more interesting and surprising facts about the usage of plastic bags:

- Four to five trillion plastic bags are made each year

- Americans use over 380 billion bags each year

- It takes 1000 years for a plastics bag to break down

- About 1 billion animals die each year from ingesting the bags

- Over a billion plastic bags are given out free each day

- The cost of plastic bags to American Retailers each year is about $4 billion

- When plastic bags break down they cause a threat to marine life and contaminate the food chain

- The cost of a plastic bag is 0.4 cents per bag

- The average grocery store shopper uses 15 plastic bag per trip to the store (The Real Cost of Free Plastic Bags).

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individual. The average American makes about 2.3 trips to the grocery store per week. In each trip, there is an average of 5-10 plastic bags being used. This allows for a grand total of 600-1200 plastic bags per year per American. Stores pay about one penny per plastic bag so per family per year, stores pay about $6-$12. These costs are nothing in comparison to the effects of each plastic bag on the environment. During each stage of the 1,000 degration life of the plastic bag, energy is consumed and wastes are emitted as the bag decomposes. It is hard to imagine per person this is occurring up to 1200 times over per year! (Plastic Bag Lifestyle Stages).

The Service Project

Before our service project was to decided upon, preliminary steps were taken and a few smaller projects were taken on. Mandy and Liz created a survey for local New Brunswick supermarkets to take in order to get an idea of the usage of plastic bags:

1. What is the average number of plastic bags used... a. Daily

b. Monthly c. Annually

2. How many bags did you order the last time you placed an oder for plastic bags for this supermarket?

3. Would you consider not offering plastic bags for use as a bagging option?

4. Do you offer alternatives to using plastic bags? (ex. buying a bag/bags that you can buy once and re use)

5. Do you offer incentives for not using plastic bags? (ex. money bag for every plastic bag not used)

6. Is or has there been a rise in losses due to shop lifting once an alternative to plastic was offered? and if there hasnt been an alternative offered is fear of a rise in shoplifting one reason that the alternative is not being offered?

Unfortunately many of the stores did not comply with filling out the survey. They advised us to contact corporate because they did not feel comfortable answering the questions. So we have also written a letter that can be sent to supermarkets’ corporate centers that states our project and the need to stop the use of plastic bags in their stores. We have not heard anything back from corporate at this time.

Next, editorials were written to the Targum (Liz), the Medium (Zubair), the Green Print (Nicole), the New Brunswick Shop Rite (Mandy), and to the Centurion(Kristin) about the harms of plastic bags. These editorials are included in following pages of this classapedia.

The next plan of action was to propose legislation to ban plastic bags. Nicole created a proposal for legislation to ban plastic bags in supermarkets in the city of New Brunswick. This proposal was sent to the NJ Legislators and a response was received that the proposal was sent to the wrong address. The proposal should have been sent to a NJ representative and not to the entire legislature. Because of time delays, the legislation was not re-sent. Here is the proposal:

The use of plastic bags is such an extremely common practice that it is part of the everyday life of the average citizen of New Brunswick, New Jersey. It is largely unknown and disregarded that

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the use of plastic bags is very dangerous to the environment and to life. Plastic bags are made of polyethylene which is a petroleum product that greatly contributes to air pollution and energy consumption. Each year there are about four to five trillion plastic bags manufactured and Americans use about 380 billion of these bags per year, which leaves the remaining 100 billion plastic bags unused and disposed of. Of these extra bags, only one percent is recycled. Another scary fact is that it takes 1000 years for polyethylene to break down and decompose, and in this process, toxic substances are released which leach into the soil and subsequently enter the food chain.

Due to this process, one billion seabirds and mammals die per year by ingesting plastic alone. It is not uncommon for plastic bags to be mistaken as food, which leads to the death of 100,000 marine animals per year. This plastic becomes wrapped around the animal’s intestines or end up chocking the animal to death, which are two very painful and cruel ways to die. Plastic bags also overfill landfills and are carried into forests, ponds, rivers and lakes which further pollutes our earth.

All of this pollution is unnecessary because there are reasonable alternatives to plastic bags that are not delirious to the environment such as the reuse of shopping bags, the use of wax paper instead of polyethylene products, recycling plastic bags to stores, etc. Because of their damage to life and to our earth, compounded with the fact that there are much safer alternatives, it is

proposed that the city of New Brunswick, New Jersey should ban the use of plastic bags. (a) Beginning on the first day of November, two thousand nine, all retail

establishments shall be required to phase out the use of light plastic bags used for consumer purchases and will eliminate use of light plastic bags by the first of November, two thousand eleven.

(b) As part of this elimination of plastic bag program, all retailers are required to: (1) Provide customers with compostable bags;

(2) Label bags to return to store for recycling;

(3) Place recycling bins in visible and accessible locations for customer use; and (4) Provide reusable bags for customers to potentially purchase in lieu of disposable bags.

Another idea was to create a popular alternative to the plastic bag. Zubair worked toward this idea by creating a business proposal that would produce trendy canvas bags that are easy to wash and can be used for a multitude of things, not only at the grocery store so that the use of plastic bags would become less at all stores. This business plan is attached in the Power Point

Presentation.

For our final service project, Kristin created a lesson plan to inform future generations the detrimental effects of plastic bags and then sent them to the superintendent of the Hillsborough school district. These lesson plans were approved by the superintendent of Hillsborough schools and will be implemented on Earth Day 2010 by our entire group.

Lesson plans for grades k-12 include information about plastic bags and teaches the kids how to reduce the use of the bags and how important it is for the environment and wildlife that we do so. The lesson plan can be taught during Earth Day and there are two different plans, one for

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elementary school and one for middle school and high school. The two different plans allows for a more mature lesson for older kids and provides more information while the elementary school plan is tailored to meet the needs of the younger children. Each group member will be present on Earth Day to help out and be involved in this program. Below are the two different lesson plans that we will be teaching:

Lesson Plan 1: Wildlife and Pollution Science: Elementary

Materials Required: plastic garbage bags, garbage Concepts Taught: Cause and Effect

AQUATIC WILDLIFE AND POLLUTION

1. Students will draw pictures of healthy and hazardous marine and freshwater environments.

2. Students will describe the effects of the pollution of plastics on wildlife.

3. Students will notice the large amount of "plastic litter" in their immediate surroundings.

Purpose: Develop an awareness and sensitivity to the natural world and explain common patterns of interdependence and interrelationships of living things.

Materials:

Pictures of several types of wildlife (water and land), markers, crayons, pencils, colored pencils, paper, garbage bag full of several types of plastic garbage, chart to show litter found outside, which is dangerous, etc., four extra garbage bags (empty), Book: One less fish

Engage: Students have ten to fifteen photographs of several types of wildlife. They will work as a group of approximately four to five students. They will classify the pictures in any way that they can. Then, as a complete group look at how the students sorted the pictures and what pictures lie in each group. Each group will explain how they chose to classify the pictures. Also, discuss what a good environment would be for these animals and what would be harmful.

Explore: Tell students that today they will be discussing aquatic wildlife. Two garbage bags full of plastic items will be given to previous days groups. The students will take out and examine all objects. Then, they will discuss, in their groups, how these objects relate to aquatic wildlife. Students will sort their plastic materials into three groups looking at how animals would perceive the plastics: Very likely to be considered food, Somewhat likely to be considered food, Not likely to be considered food. Questions will be asked: Why would you think that? Well, what kind of animal would eat that? Do you know what effect it would have on the animal? What causes these plastics to get there?

Explanation: Read story titled, "On the Spot: Oceans." As I go through the story ask students questions to make sure they are understanding all of the material and paying attention. The book does not directly address polluting the oceans or other water environments. They can predict how many of each type of plastic they think they would find on their playground.

Elaborate: For this part of the lesson take students outside. Start by standing in a circle, review topics learned from day one, talk about the book that ended last time. Then give students more information about how plastics harm the wildlife. Tell them:

1) Many fishermen lose plastic netting into the ocean. Aquatic wildlife swims into it and have no chance for survival once in the net.

2) Leatherback turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish.

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Students will be put into groups of two or three. Their mission is to stay on the

playground, but to find items that would be dangerous to aquatic wildlife, concentrating closely on plastics. They will have five minutes. After five minutes has passed we will move indoors and students dump out their garbage bags. Then items will be sorted into the same three piles as we had before. If students have any items that are not plastic ask to explain how they think that the items are dangerous to aquatic wildlife.

Evaluation: Give students 8.5in x 11 in. sheet of paper that has been folded in half. On one half ask the students to draw a picture of what a healthy environment would be for aquatic wildlife. On the other half they will draw a hazardous environment. Then, on the back have them write down one small thing they think that they could do to help save our aquatic wildlife. In addition the students will write down what causes the plastic pollution in the water and what is the effect of it.

Lesson Plan 2: Wildlife and Pollution Science: Middle and High School Activity Time: Two 60 minute periods Earth Day Every Day

Overview:This lesson demonstrates how classroom and community projects can improve the local environment and wildlife and benefit communities beyond one's own. Students will discuss pollution concerns, analyze these concerns, and offer practical remedies. Students will conclude by devising a project to implement the remedies and share the results with classrooms around the world.

Materials Required: Newspaper articles highlighting environmental issues , drawing paper and/or poster board, markers, colored pencils, or other drawing materials

Objectives:Students will learn to recognize how human activities can have adverse pollution consequences; and propose alternative activities to reduce the negative effects of some of these consequences.

Procedure

Opening:Have a class discussion about how pollution affects wildlife. When very young students tend to have information and opinions on environmental concerns. Record what your students consider to be pollution of wildlife problems. Next to each problem record how social views and activities influence or control the problem.

Development:Examine how these issues affect the students directly. Identify specific effects in your community or school. Students should have a clear understanding of cause and effect. Then talk about similar problems in other places and how societies elsewhere are coping (or failing to cope) with them.

Explore how an action in one place can affect another place and how problems can spread. Students should recognize that what may be a minor concern today can get worse. Focus the student conversation on the local environmental problem you chose. Either individually or as a group, have students diagram the interconnections between causes and effects of the problem. The diagrams should include both large-scale effects (problems that could originate in your community but spread to others) and long-term effects (those that may not be seen for weeks, months, or years).

Divide your class into small groups. Encourage each group to sketch a map showing the areas affected by the environmental problem. The map should address several questions: What are the

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sources of the problem? Can they be pinpointed or are they geographically diffuse? How and where does the problem currently affect people or other aspects of the environment? Using colored pencils, students should also show how the geographic extent of the problem could change in the future.

Closing:Students should evaluate their solutions for practicality and effectiveness. A successful solution should include a goal, steps people can take to attain the goal, and a means of measuring progress toward the goal.

Suggested Student Assessment: Students, individuals or in small groups, should create a proposal that offers the best solution to the problem they researched. The proposal can be written, oral, or both. It also could include a poster that encourages a change in behavior.

References

Burthinshaw, Julie. "The Shocking Facts About Polyethylene Bags". Say No to Plastic Bags. December 10 2009

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<http://environmental-activism.suite101.com/article.cfm/say_no_to_plastic_bags>. "Health impacts of water pollution ". October 15, 2009 <http://edugreen.teri.res.in/explore/water/health.htm>.

"Plastic Bag Lifestyle Stages". Michigan Environmental Education Curriciulum. December 8, 2009 <http://techalive.mtu.edu/meec/module14/Plasticbaglifecycle.htm>.

Roach, John . "Are Plastic Grocery Bags Sacking the Environment?". National Geographic News. October 15, 2009

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/09/0902_030902_plasticbags.html.\ "The Numbers…Believe It or Not". reuseable bags. December 10 2009

<http://www.reusablebags.com/facts.php?id=4>.

"The Real Cost of Free Plastic Bags". Reuseable bags. December 10 2009 <http://www.reusablebags.com/facts.php?id=2>.

Editorials

1. Written by- Kristin Titus, Sent to-The Centurion Plastic Bag Problems

Every once in a while the government passes an order banning shop keepers from providing plastic bags to customers for carrying their purchases, with little lasting effect. Plastic bags are very popular with both retailers as well as consumers because they are cheap, strong,

lightweight, functional, as well as a hygienic means of carrying food as well as other goods. Even though they are one of the modern conveniences that we seem to be unable to do without, they are responsible for causing pollution, killing wildlife, and using up the precious resources of the earth.

About a hundred billion plastic bags are used each year in the US alone. And then, when one considers the huge economies and populations of India, China, Europe, and other parts of the world, the numbers can be staggering.

Here are some harmful effects plastic bags have on the environment. First, plastic bags kill animals. About 100,000 animals such as dolphins, turtle’s, whales, and penguins are killed every year due to plastic bags. Many animals ingest plastic bags, mistaking them for food, and

therefore die. And worse, the ingested plastic bag remains intact even after the death and decomposition of the animal. Thus, it lies around in the landscape where another victim may ingest it. Next, plastic bags are non-biodegradable. And one of the worst environmental effects of plastic bags is that they are non-biodegradable. The decomposition of plastic bags takes about 1000 years. And finally, petroleum is required to produce plastic bags. As it is, petroleum

products are diminishing and getting more expensive by the day, since we have been using this non-renewable resource increasingly. Petroleum is vital for our modern way of life. It is

necessary for our energy requirements, for our factories, transport, heating, lighting, and so on. Without viable alternative sources of energy yet on the horizon, if the supply of petroleum were to be turned off, it would lead to practically the whole world grinding to a halt. Surely, this precious resource should not be wasted on producing plastic bags, should it?

So, what can be done about the use of plastic bags? Single use plastic bags have become such a ubiquitous way of life that it seems as if we simply cannot do without them. However, if we have the will, we can start reducing their use in small ways. A tote bag can make a good substitute for holding the shopping. You can keep the bag with the cahier, and then put your purchases into it instead of the usual plastic bag. Recycling the plastic bags you already have is another good idea.

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These can come into use for various purposes, like holding your garbage, instead of purchasing new ones. While governments may be working out ways to lessen the impact of plastic bags on the environment, however, each of us should shoulder some of the responsibility for this problem, which ultimately harms us.

______________________________________________________________________________ 2. Written by Amanda Mortillardo, sent to: New Brunswick, NJ Shop Rite

One Reusable bag Vs. 1,000 Plastic ones; How Plastic bags are Effecting People and Animals Alike

A greener way of life is what new products are supporting, from water bottles to cars. But what can you do to help your environment? Stop using plastic bags when you go grocery

shopping is one easy way that you can have a huge impact on your environment. The annual consumption of plastic bags is about 500 billion or about one million bags each minute (The Real Cost of Free Plastic Bags). These bags are harming our environment and wildlife. “Plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year when animals mistake them for food (The Real Cost of Free Plastic Bags)”. Whales also mistake plastic bags for squid and are showing up dead on shores around the world. Flamingos and platypuses get their heads entangled in the bags while others are injured. An endless amount of animals are affected by the way the world over uses plastic bags.

Something must be done to lower the consumption of plastic bags and that can start by each person using reusable bags when grocery shopping. On average, a family uses about 60 bags in only four trips to the grocery store. Shop Rite has started in the effort to reduce plastic bag consumption by giving each customer $.05 for each reusable bag used when shopping at their store; but not every grocery store has picked up this motivation factor. A reusable bag essential will pay for itself within a few trips to the store. If each person buys one reusable bag it has the potential to eliminate 1,000 plastic bags from being used.

Reusable bags are not just a beneficial for the wildlife but for the consumer as well. Grocery stores will save money by not buying plastic bags and the store can potentially pass that savings along to you, their customer. Some states are making bags more expensive to cause people to buy reusable bags. New York City Mayor Bloomberg has been discussing placing a $.06 sales tax on each plastics bag. This tax will be passed along to grocery store customers causing prices to rise. Really, grocery stores should stop supplying customers with plastic bags altogether. The store would save money, the customer would save money, and an enormous amount of wildlife would be saved. So next time you go to the store buy reusable bags and help in the effort to save our environment and innocent animals lives.

______________________________________________________________________________ 3: Written by-Nicole DeMola, Sent to- The Green Print

The Detriments of Plastic Bags and What We Can Do About Them

The use of plastic bags is such a common practice that it is part of the everyday life of the average citizen of New Brunswick, New Jersey. It is largely unknown or disregarded that the use of plastic bags is very dangerous to the environment and to life itself. Plastic bags are made of polyethylene which is a petroleum product that greatly contributes to air pollution and energy consumption. Each year there are about four to five trillion plastic bags manufactured and Americans use about 380 billion of these bags per year, which leaves the remaining 100 billion plastic bags unused and disposed of. Of these extra bags, only one percent is recycled. Another

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scary fact is that it takes 1,000 years for polyethylene to break down and decompose, and in this process, toxic substances are released which leach into the soil and subsequently enter the food chain. Due to this process, one billion seabirds and mammals die per year by ingesting plastic alone. It is not uncommon for plastic bags to be mistaken as food, which leads to the death of 100,000 marine animals per year (The Shocking Facts About Polyethylene Bags).

Plastic bags also overfill landfills and are carried into forests, ponds, rivers and lakes which further pollute our earth. All of this pollution is unnecessary because there are reasonable

alternatives to plastic bags that are not delirious to the environment such as the reuse of shopping bags, the use of wax paper instead of polyethylene products and recycling plastic bags to stores. Because of their damage to life and to our earth, compounded with the fact that there are much safer alternatives, it is proposed that the city of New Brunswick, New Jersey should ban the use of plastic bags. If such abatement is decided to be impossible, there should be a decline in the use of plastic bags with an increase in the usage of alternatives.

______________________________________________________________________________ 4. Written by- Liz Pusterla, Sent to- The Targum

“Paper or Plastic?”

This is a question that has become obsolete in recent years. In many supermarkets today there are two plastic bag holders at the end of each register to bag your groceries. If you look really hard you may be able to find a small stack of paper bags. Even if you are lucky enough to find this little stack the staff at the supermarket still tend to put the paper bag inside the plastic one. When did the use of plastic bags become the only way to go?

Many Americans today are focused on “going green.” We have become transfixed on greener forms of energy such as wind turbines and using hydropower, also using hybrid vehicles to lower emissions.

There is one very simple way to go green that I feel is overlooked by many. This is use of plastic bags at the supermarket, it is overwhelming, and reducing this number would be a simple but effective way to be a little “greener”. I have also recently learned that it is a touchy subject with store managers as many that run local supermarkets around New Brunswick were unwilling to participate in a short survey about the use of plastic. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that it costs about one cent per plastic bag whereas a paper bag costs the supermarket four cents? Or maybe it has to do with the fact that they don’t want to dissatisfy loyal customers by forcing them to purchase reusable bags. Whatever the issue may be it needs to be addressed and something needs to be done because these bags are ever increasingly filling up landfills and polluting our Earth.

After a person brings their groceries inside and puts them away where do these bags end up? Many end up inside another plastic bag just waiting for its next use. Some of these uses include, lunch bags, trash pale liners, dog dropping pick up bags, or gym bags. After this secondary use these bags tend to end up in the trash themselves, where they then make their way to waterways, landfills, or blowing in the breeze. Once the bag lands at its final destination it takes months to hundreds of years to decompose all the while leaking toxins into our soil and drinking water. These “free” plastic bags are not truly free, they have a deleterious effect on the environment and everyone is paying for it in the end.

These bags also adversely affect wildlife. Sea turtles mistake these bags that end up in the oceans for jellyfish and swallow them. When a sea turtle ingests one of these bags they suffocate on them and die a slow and painful death. This could lead to the extinction of leatherback sea

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turtles, as jellyfish are one of their favorite meals and plastic bags are ending up in our ocean now more than ever. Sea birds also swallow these bags and die in the same manner. They litter beach fronts at the jersey shore and they are an eye sore if nothing else.

Plastic bags are leaching chemicals into the earth which end up in drinking water. They end up in waterways and kill wildlife that mistake the bags for food. They fill landfills and create eye sores at the beach. All in all are these bags truly free? It is a question that cannot be answered looking at money alone. We are paying for these bags in the form of beautiful beaches, thriving wildlife, smaller landfills, and clean drinking water. All in all I would say we as Americans are greatly mistaking these bags as free.

______________________________________________________________________________ 5. Written by- Zubair Kazi, sent to: The Medium

“Paper or Plastic”…. or Reusable?

You complete your grocery shopping and make your way over to the cash register where even before being greeted you are asked is “paper or plastic?” Your response is similar to that of an involuntary response like a reflex. Without even taking a chance to comprehend the question you voice your preference instantly and continue to bag your groceries. However, how many of us took the time to think about the costs, affects, and environmental damage that could be resultants of our usage habits and negligence.

Most of us live our lives on a daily basis taking many things for granted that may not affect us today, but never stop to think about the impact our actions will have in the future. Using myself as an example, I do grocery shopping on a weekly basis using an average of 15 plastic

(preference) bags per visit. This times the number of weeks in a year (52) would mean that on an annual basis I alone use 780 plastic bags just for grocery shopping. This number does not even account for the use of paper/plastic bags that consumers use on other types of shopping such as clothing, shoes, etc. The numbers speak for themselves, when you take into account an average American such as me multiplied by the number of Americans that shop.

The thing that we as consumers lack is knowledge. If we had the facts and figures in front of us, perhaps then we would be more aware of the consequences that our actions could lead us into. First introduced in the 1970’s plastic bags have captured 80% of the grocery and convenience store market according to the Arlington, Virginia-based American Plastics Council. Not only are they cheap to produce, but they are sturdy, easy handling, and in abundance. Moreover, they are used for almost everything from lining garbage cans, to carrying clothes, to even holding the feces of dogs.

However, at the same time they clutter landfills, hang in trees, clog roadside drains, pollute natural waters, and harm wildlife. Through data released by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 the U.S. bag consumption ranged between 500 billion and trillion, with numbers that have heavily increased by today. It must be brought to the attention that once these bags reach the environment, it takes months to nearly hundreds of years for them to decompose and when they do they seep into the rivers, soil and air around us. How do these figures compare to the usage of paper bags you might be wondering.

For starters, now that we know all the harmful damages of plastic it is also good to know that plastic is more resourceful and environmentally friendly than paper bags. So yes, the next time you decide to go grocery shopping choose plastic over paper the better of two evils as you know it. Relative to paper bags, plastic bags consume 40% less energy, generate 80% less solid waste, 70% fewer atmospheric emissions, and up to 94% fewer waterborne wastes. Relative to costs

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plastic bags cost one cent a piece where paper costs four cents a piece.

The success of the plastic bag has also become detrimental to its progress due to the

environmental damage it has caused. In some countries such as Bangladesh, Ireland, Taiwan and South Africa heavy taxation has been placed or complete outlined bans. In Ireland, a tax placed on the usage of plastic bags reduced the consumption by almost 95%! So what alternatives have other countries taken besides a tax, and where does this choice impact us?

In other countries, such as Ireland with the tax being put into action almost everyone carries around a reusable bag that they use for their daily shopping endeavors. Many believe a similar tax in the US would have a similar effect. Not only would it decrease the rapid consumption of plastic bags, but people would at least use them more carefully and only when needed. The other alternative which has been introduced slightly in America and but taking a more gradual growth has been a reusable environmental friendly bag. Many corporations have started numerous “green” environmental programs to save the future of earth. Now that you are educated with the knowledge behind this simple activity, I urge you to take actions regarding this issue. The next time you are asked “paper or plastic” respond with a simple neither, and educate others on the significance of an environmentally friendly alternative to a simple activity like shopping.

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References

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