Plastic bags now already have the reputation of being fairly destructive for the environment. They are made from crude oil, and the implications of that are several. For starters, it’s not a renewable resource, making it hard to understand why we are so dependent on that product. Secondly, extracting it causes an incredible amount of pollution, no matter how it is done. According to the Natural Environment website, it takes up to 100 million barrels of oil to manufacture a year’s worth of plastic bags worldwide.
Then, there is the time it takes to degrade. Since most are not biodegradable, they don’t actually completely disappear. Instead, they leave a form of ‘plastic dust’, which is a very small particle of plastic. What we need to know is that not all plastic bags end up in landfills. Several are found in forests, lakes, rivers and oceans. As a matter of fact, there is a ‘plastic soup’ patch in the Pacific Ocean twice the size of continental USA, and it is not going to disappear due to the makeup of the bags.
Although most people know about the devastating effects of plastic, there are still quite a lot of people who refuse to throw their garbage in the right locations (bins) or reduce their consumption of bags and disposable products. This affects the wildlife in every location that the plastic is contaminating.
For example, approximately 100,000 sea turtles and other marine mammals die each year from ingesting pieces of plastic since they mistake it for food. Jellyfish are apparently prone to this as well as the albatross and other endangered species. Land wildlife do the same thing, and this could have dire consequences on humans in the long run, since most people on the planet still eat meat.
Some suggest recycling as an alternative, but this is not reliable since the resource is still being used, and we need to use more energy to convert the plastic into a new item. Reusing it as a doggie-doo bag is nice, or for the garbage bins, but this still means we are using plastic. The best solution is to purchase reusable bags, or better yet, make your own from scrap materials.
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