Plastic bags pollution (know more) is increasing with each passing year. Estimates show that the average 4-person family uses up to 60 plastic bags for every four trips they make to the grocery store. While that may seem like nothing, because these individuals do not know how to reduce plastic bags pollution it is something. Recycling and reusing plastic bags is important.
The number of plastic bags every family uses adds to the millions of tons of plastic debris currently floating around in our world’s oceans. As surprisingly helpful as plastic has been, primarily since it has taught us how the ocean’s currents operate or how it has affected marine life, it is still one of the most harmful substances plaguing us today.
Plastic has been harming us and the environment for the past 50 years. While it may be beneficial and convenient, the damage it is causing is one that future generations will have to deal with in the years to come. Here are a few ways in which plastic is currently harming us, the planet and adding to the plastic bags pollution crisis.
Ways In Which Plastic Bags Pollution Affects Us
- It is everywhere!
Forget about plastic bag storage! Regardless of where you travel to on the planet, from Antarctica to the Arctic, you will always find traces of plastic. Plastic is responsible for a variety of everyday misfortunes such as clogging our city drains, littering our campgrounds and even piling up on the most hiked mountain, Mount Everest.
Thanks to runoff, plastic is now growing stock in the world’s oceans and as such is starting to be ingested by marine wildlife. From large plastic patches to floating around just beneath the waves, estimates show that the amount of plastic found in the ocean will exceed all of the fish that live on the planet by the year 2050.
- Plastic is capable of killing more than just humans
Even after years of research, we are just starting to get an understanding of how dangerous plastic is, not only for us but for the other creatures that we share this planet with. We are just starting to see the harmful effects on wildlife who have had the misfortune of eating the plastic found in the world’s oceans to being entangled in it.
Unlike the food we naturally eat, plastic cannot be broken down by our bodies typically. With that said, the wildlife who end up consuming plastic, end up suffering from plastic blockages, malnutrition and slow and painful death from chemical poisoning. It becomes pertinent to learn how to reduce plastic bags pollution.
Not even microscopic animals are safe from plastic. They too are at risk of ingesting the harmful material. It, in turn, leads the microorganism to feeds less, have less energy, suffer from injuries and even die from the consumption of plastic.
How to Reduce Plastic Bags Pollution
Thankfully, there are plenty of methods on how to reduce plastic bags pollution. Here are some of the easiest ways you can reduce your use of plastic bags.
Bring your bag when going shopping
Yes, using plastic bags can be convenient, especially when grocery shopping. However, it is not the most effective or efficient thing that you can use.
Did you know that between 5 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used for shopping every year across the planet?
Yes, plastic bags are often free for shoppers to use, but they have a high cost on the environment and one of which we are all currently paying for. The best way to reduce the number of plastic bags you use is to bring your shopping bag. Whether you decide to reuse plastic bags from previous shopping trips or whether you want to invest in durable tote bags, this can help you reduce plastic waste by avoiding plastic bags entirely.
Some of the best bags to use are ones that you can customize such as the custom recycled luxury craft shopping paper bag or the wholesale custom washable paper bag from Zigpac. Both can help reduce the number of plastic bags you use in a single week! You can even find a plastic bag with logo alternative to represent your favorite brand!
Shop at stores that use paper
If you are a type of person who regularly shops, you can help do your part by reducing the use of plastic bags by choosing stores that opt to use paper bags instead of plastic bags. Using these stores can help not only support an environmentally friendly business but can also go a long way in helping to support the environment as well.
Spend your money at these stores and spread the word to your friends and family who are also environmentally conscious. The more these types of businesses get supported by the general public, the more other companies will notice and start to copy the same tactics.
The good news is that while few stores still use paper, due to the change in environmental policies, more stores are beginning to make the switch from plastic to paper.
Buy groceries in cardboard containers rather than plastic
Whenever you go grocery shopping, make a habit of looking for items packaged in paper containers rather than plastic bag storage. It can include items such as laundry detergent, dish soap, eggs, or dairy products. The best way to find things to buy that use cardboard packaging is to look for companies that actively use sustainable cardboard as part of their regular business practice.
Look for a plastic container or a plastic bag with a logo from the company to see if the packaging they use is recyclable and plastic-free.
How to Reuse Plastic Bags to Prevent Pollution
Even if you make the switch to using reusable bags when shopping, there is still a good chance you have a stack of plastic bags somewhere in your house. Luckily there are plenty of ways you can reuse these plastic bags to help reduce their toll on the environment. Here are a few creative ways to reuse plastic bags that you would have never thought!
Protect items during packaging
A surprising benefit to using plastic bags is that they can help protect items during packaging. Plastic is known for being extremely light and durable. If you are going to be mailing a package instead of using those pesky packing peanuts, opt to use plastic bags instead. Plastic bags can be used the same way as you would use packing peanuts: for insulating and protecting the contents of a package. Recycling plastic bags work so well; you won’t even notice the difference.
Make a reusable bag
Did you know that plastic can be used in a way similar to how the fabric is used?
Plastic can be used in the same way as many of your favorite items are crafted: to make bags, hats or blankets. Using plastic to assemble these items is an excellent way for you to reuse each plastic bag with the logo that you have piling up in your home. It will help ensure that you are inclined to use them the moment the opportunity arises.
Store plastic bags for later use
It is no secret that recycling plastic bags can become especially helpful for everyday use. You can take advantage of plastic bag storage around your house to use for those random events that you don’t expect. You can use plastic bags for a variety of reasons such as:
- To store wet clothes
- Pick up trash
- Line smaller trash cans
- To store muddy clothes until you can wash them
- For gardening purposes
Donate your plastic bags
There are organizations, charity events and companies that go through plastic bags like it is their job. The most common places are non-profit or charity organizations. Because of their constant use, these places will accept plastic bag donations all of the time, as long as they are in useable condition.
To find places that accept plastic bag donation, visit your local library, food bank, homeless shelter or United Way.
Use plastic bags for arts and crafts
Using plastic bags for arts and crafts is a great way to use up the plastic bags that have been piling up around your home. Reusing plastic bags for art is a process known as up-cycling, and it is a great way to avoid adding to the plastic problem by utilizing them for another purpose.
You can use plastic bags to help craft things such as:
Use plastic bags for sorting
Plastic bags can also help to keep your everyday life organized. Use of plastic bags ranges from sorting things into an organized heap, from fruits and vegetables to laundry. Use the excess plastic bags you have in your home to help sort your children’s toys, art supplies, items for donation gardening tools, hardware tools or socks.
We all know how clumsy our children or we can be. Whether we are transporting things from one place to another or whether we are merely going about doing errands, there is always a chance that we can make a mess in the process.
A plastic bag can help reduce the number of messes you make by acting as a natural barrier. It can be used to help prevent spills from cups, dust falling from makeup compartments or a place to toss out paper towels while traveling.
How to Recycle Plastic Bags for Environmental Safety
Plastic bags happen to be one of the most common types of litter you can find today. They are so popular in fact; estimates show that millions of pounds of plastic bags get picked up in parks, highways and along the coastline every year. Because of its abundance, recycling plastic bags has become one of the most critical priorities for environment conservationists.
Now that you understand the importance of recycling plastic bags, you need to know how to go about recycling plastic bags. To recycle plastic bags:
1. Visit your local grocery store to see if they have a plastic bag recycling program as this is a method on how to reduce plastic bags pollution.
3. If plastic kits contain a recycling symbol with a number 2 or 3 on it, you can take them to a recycling plant near you.
Reasons to Recycle Plastic Bags
There are many reasons to recycle plastic bags other than just the safety of the environment.
Unlike most substances that are tossed out, plastic bags do not biodegrade over time. Instead, they go through a process known as photodegradation. It means that plastic bags break down into smaller chemical pieces due to the amount of sunlight they absorb. It takes about 100 years for plastic bags to degrade. Because of this, there is a higher risk of soil and water contamination from plastic, which can be harmful to us over time.
- What Decomposition Tests Have Found
While we know a lot of plastic, one fact that we do not know is precisely how long plastic bags can take to decompose. Plastic bags have only been around for the past 50 years. Due to this, we don’t have a timeline of the decomposition period for them.
However, thanks to respirometry tests, scientists around the world have been able to estimate the decomposition rate of plastic bags by using simulations to study them. With these tests, scientists have been able to deduce that due to the photodegradation of plastic bags and a natural breakdown rate, plastic bags take over 100 years or more to fully breakdown.
Benefits of Recycling to the Environment
Recycling plastic bags can be more beneficial to the environment than just reducing the amount of plastic bags pollution on our planet’s oceans. It is public knowledge that the compound used to produce plastic bags, known as polyethylene, is a non-renewable source of energy. By recycling plastic bags, it can help to save up to 11 barrels of oil per ton of plastic bags that are recycled.
As bothersome as plastic bags are for the environment, there are plenty of fun and creative ways to reuse, recycle or reduce the number of plastic bags you use. It is crucial for you to take the time to educate yourself with the various resources and services at your disposal. Do your part to decrease the plastic by reading our guide on how to reduce plastic bags pollution.
Reducing, recycling or reusing plastic bags you use daily is an achievable goal. All you have to do is put in the work and get creative. From pure plastic bag storage to using a recyclable plastic bag with logo from your favorite store, we all can contribute to ridding the oceans and environment of harmful plastic.