How often do you use plastic bags each week? Majority of us can say a lot, anywhere between the -teens to the 20s, 30s, 40s and up. Lately, many conservation groups are fighting for plastic bag bans so I had to ask, how bad are plastic bags?
But how much do we really know about the environmental impact that a simple plastic bag has on our daily lives. Chances are, not too much except that we know it can't be good.
Just to place things in perspective for all of us, I have compiled some interesting environmental facts in the life and journey of a plastic bag courtesy of the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NTEPA).
First and foremost: plastic bags don't biodegrade, as would bananas or apples and trees. Instead, they photodegrade meaning they break down into smaller and smaller toxic pieces over time, which contaminates our soil and waterways ultimately entering the food web in the animal kingdom.
By 'over time' I mean a plastic bag can take anywhere between 400 to 1000 YEARS to break down in the environment; obviously that's not natural or beneficial for conserving the environment.
How unhealthy are plastic bags to the animal kingdom? Well, statistics show that plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and marine animal deaths on an annual basis since, animals mistake them for food.
I don't blame these marine animals for mistaking plastic for food when 90% of all debris in our oceans is made of plastic.
Now that I have filled your head with statistics and facts the remaining question on our minds should be, what can I do to help? Well truth be told, some of the answers are quite simple indeed and every little bit helps.
One quick and simple way to reduce plastic bag use, is to convert using plastic bags to reusable 'green bags'. A typical supermarket plastic bag consumes 4.5 times more energy in order to manufacture, as opposed to a reusable green bag.
Another great way is to get involved with community efforts helping to conserve the environment. Many of these groups form and develop petitions for things such as plastic bag bans, and develop volunteering events that help clean local communities.
In essence, the change starts with us. The more we personally change our habits, the more progress we can see in our environment. After all, we all have to share this wonderful world we live in.