Each year nearly 380 billion plastic bags are used in the US — any only 7 percent of them are recycled. The plastic scourge clogs waterways and takes hundreds of years to break down into smaller plastic bits (the bags don’t biodegrade). They also often makes their way into animals’ bodies: birds and fish especially like to eat the pieces, which often look like food. These pieces can choke them, block their digestive tracts, and the toxins used to make the plastic often get absorbed into their systems. But it’s not all about the animals; cleanup also costs taxpayers money. According to the LA Times via Wikipedia, “In San Francisco, it cost $8.5 million in 2004 to clean up plastic bag litter. According to the California State Assembly website, it would cost $25 million a year to clean up California’s plastic waste.” Read on for a look at the plastic bag problem and ways that we can fight the plastification of our environment!
Plastic bags are, like most plastics (save those made from corn or sugarcane, which are a very small percentage of the current market), made from oil. According to the Sierra Club, It takes about 430,000 gallons of oil to produce 100 million plastic bags, and the U.S. goes through 380 billion of them a year. That’s quite a bit of oil wasted on something that most of us use for just minutes before throwing away.
Lead Photo © Kate Ter Haar