Here are 10 things you need to know about plastic bags:
- Canadians use 9-15 billion plastic shopping bags every year.
Is that number too big to think about? Then picture this: if we tied 9 billion bags together they would circle the earth 55 times.
- Plastic bags are made from non-renewable resources
Just 8.7 plastic shopping bags contain enough embodied petroleum energy to drive a car 1 km.
- Five minutes versus 1000 years
The average plastic bag is used for five minutes to carry your purchases home, yet these single use plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to break down.
- Plastic bag recycling is inefficient
The market price for recycled bags in Canada is $55 per tonne which is about 150,000 bags. The energy and funds required to collect and process plastic bags far exceeds the $55 market price after recycling. Recycling plastic bags just isn't worth it.
- Plastic bags kill birds, wildlife, and livestock
Plastic bags are known to kill sea birds, sea mammals and fish. Turtles, dolphins, and whales can choke or starve by confusing plastic bags for jellyfish. On land, plastic bags kill birds, livestock, and deer.
- Plastic bags block drains, leading to flooding
Plastic shopping bags have been banned in Mumbai, India, and in Bangladesh after they were blamed for clogging drains and sewers, leading to severe floods that killed over 1000 people in 2005.
- Every piece of plastic ever made still exists
There are approximately 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in each square mile of the world’s oceans. In some places there's more plastic than plankton. Plastic bags are in the top 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups.
- Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade
Photodegradation is a chemical reaction between plastic and sunlight. It means that the plastic bags break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest them. Yuck!
- Canadian plastic bags have been found as far away as Scotland
Because plastic bags are easily transported by wind and water they can travel great distances. Plastic bags are now common everywhere from Spitsbergen (78° North latitude) to the Falkland Islands (51° South latitude).
- Not all litter is deliberate
Up to 47% of wind borne litter escaping from landfills is plastic, mainly plastic bags. These end up in our forests, grasslands, waterways, and oceans. Approximately 80% of marine trash is swept by wind and rain off highways, streets, and landfills, down streams and rivers, and out to sea.
- Reusable bags are the solution
A sturdy, reusable bag will last for years, and only needs to be used 5 times to have a lower environmental impact. Buy a bag today! from http://www.greenerfootprints.com
And on that note, I have recently discovered a company called A Greener Way. It's a Canadian business owned by a stay at home Mom trying to help households reduce waste and provide products that can be used and reused. Each of their reusable snack, lunch, and deli wrap bags have the potential to take the place of hundreds if not more than a 1,000 plastic bags in its lifetime. Not only does this save all of these plastic bags from the landfill you will start saving money too. It is estimated that a family of four could save as much as $3000 a year by avoiding disposable and single serving packaging!
Right now, A Greener Way is offering a 30% off discount with a coupon code in honour of Black Friday and Cyber Monday! Use coupon code AGW30 until midnight November 29, 2010.