How many plastic bags do you use? The average family is thought to accumulate 60 plastic bags in just 4 shopping trips! Over 500,000,000 plastic bags are manufactured each year in the world and only 1 in 200 of them is recycled*.
Plastic bags are made out of polyethylene which is non-biodegradable. When plastic bags are left to decompose in landfill sites they give off greenhouse gases and if they are burned they give off one of the most dangerous toxins of all: dioxin, the US Environmental Protection Agency
released a report confirming that dioxin is a possible cancer hazard to people, so throwing your plastic bags away could damage people’s lives. Plastic bags take over 1000 years to decompose and are a visual pollution if littered in the streets.
Plastic bags also damage wildlife. Some plastic bags can get into the ocean, according to Planet Ark
, an international environmental group, 100,000 marine animals, including whales, seals and turtles are killed each year due to mistaking plastic bags for food.
There is something you can do to help though, if you use re-usable bags instead of plastic ones you are cutting down the amount of plastic bags going to landfill sites. Plastic bags are usually used once but re-usable bags can be used all the time. Re-usable bags are biodegradable so when you are finished with them they will not take thousands of years to decompose.
Most supermarkets sell re-usable bags and there are also designers who make fashionable re-usable bags. Using re-usable bags is a great way to help the environment and just one family using re-usable bags will stop about 160 bags a year going to the landfill sites.
This book was written by Rebecca Hoskins as she ecountered the destruction first hand when she was filming marine life for the BBC.
To order this book go to Nigels Eco Store.
There are many alternatives to plastic bags:
Make your own Morsbag: Morsbags are bags that you can make yourself from old bits of material. Morsbag was set up by a woman who was shocked by the effect plastic bags had on wildlife. In 2002 a young female minke whale was washed up in France with a total of 17 different types of plastic bag caught in her stomach.
This Doy bag has been made in the Philippines by a women’s group, it is made out of bamboo, candy wrappers and juice cartons. It is a fairtrade item.
This Jute cupcake bag is fair trade and has comfortable cotton handles which are soft on your hands.
This Calico bag is fair-trade and hand screen-printed from an organisation providing good working conditions for producers.
Another bag by Doy, this bag has been made out of recycled tomato sauce cartons, it is also fair-trade.