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Why We Must Ban Plastic Bags

Often when we look at environmental problems, the scale seems so large and the hurdles so massive that we are led to believe that the goal of protecting the environment is an insurmountable task; however, there are many very simple and easy steps that we can take that will have a huge impact on the health of the planet. Eliminating plastic bags is one such essential step.

Why We Must Ban Plastic Bags

We see them everywhere and tend to encounter them on a day to day basis giving plastic bags little, if any, thought; however, these seemingly harmless apparitions in our global culture are destroying the planet. Consider a few of these alarming facts:

  • Over 100,000 sea turtles and millions of other marine life and sea birds are killed every single year for a death toll reaching the billion mark because of discarded plastic bags that end up in waters around the world.
  • Plastic bags are furthering the fossil fuel crisis and it currently requires between 60 to 100 million barrels of oil to produce these bags every year.
  • Each year in the United States, Americans toss out over 100 billion plastic bags which litter parks, collect in landfills, and kill sea life.
  • Of the billions of bags produced every year, less than 1% are ever recycled.
  • Standard plastic shopping bags that you tend to toss out daily, are not biodegradable which means that hundreds of years from now they will still be polluting the planet and killing wildlife; and the more we produce, the bigger the problem gets.
  • Some of the inks and dyes used on plastic shopping bags can contain lead which is toxic to human life and many other animals.
  • In urban areas, plastic bags clog drains along city streets contributing to flooding during storms.

Why Taxing Plastic Bags Won't Work:

It has been suggested, mostly by those with a vested interested in keeping plastic bags, ie Big Oil, that a small tax could be placed on bags instead of banning them. The problem with this is simply that it simply does not work. Similar taxes were suggested on items in the past, such as cigarettes, since they pose such a great harm; however, rising costs have done little to curb smoking and society is still dealing with the negative effects of that blunder. Further, even if this did eventually work at some point in the long run, how many billions of barrels of oil will it take before then? How many more sea turtles will die? How much more space on our planet will our landfills consume because of these useless, and needless polluters that serve no other purpose than to put even more money into the pockets of the same oil companies that are responsible for destroying our planet with greenhouse gases and disasters such as the current crisis in the Gulf of Mexico?

The Simple Solution:

As big as this problem is, the solution is extremely simple one- don't use plastic bags. Environmentally friendly (and durable) totes exist for sometimes mere pennies. Store them in your purse or car when you go shopping so you never again have to worry about “paper or plastic”. Banning plastic bags is one of the easiest things that we can do for the planet. In fact, if plastic shopping bags were banned in a developed country, like the UK for example, it would be the equivalent of taking over 18,000 automobiles off of the road every single year.

Some cities and states like California are taking steps to ban plastic bags but we need to press ahead and make this a total, world wide ban.  With virtually no change to anyone's lifestyle required in order to have such a huge positive impact on our environment, the real question here is why would we not ban plastic bags given how vital this issue is for our own health and survival and the future of our environment for generations to come?  Just say "NO" to plastic bags!