Have you also heard that one has to use a cotton bag 131 times before it's more environmentally friendly than a plastic bag? Even so, plastic bags are the worst option to choose .
An estimated 6 billion plastic bags are consumed in each country every year.10% of the plastic that is produced worldwide each year winds up in the ocean—70% of which sinks to the ocean floor where it will never biodegrade.
Every square mile of the ocean has approximately 46,000 pieces of floating plastic which get mistaken for food by some marine mammals passing by. Other wildlife will unfortunately get tangled up in the loose plastic and drown.
Plastic bags that are buried in landfills can take up to 1,000 years to decompose and during this time, they undergo photo-degradation, a process by which an item (in this case, plastic) is chemically broken down through the absorption of sunlight, therefore contaminating soil and water. The production of plastic bags also use up millions of gallons of oil.
Even though they are considered to be a better option than plastic, paper bags still have negative impacts on the environment as well.. Both compostable and paper bags require more material per bag in the manufacturing process, meaning greater consumption of raw materials and greater energy and fuel use in the manufacturing and transport.
One of the great things about reusable bags is that they are manufactured responsibly without using environmentally harmful materials. Each reusable bag can eliminate hundreds and thousands of plastic bags. One should keep in mind, however, that effectiveness depends on the type of bag that is reused. “Polyethylene bags need to be used four times, a polypropylene bag must be used at least 11 times and a cotton bag must be used at least 131 times,” according to the UK Environment Agency.
I use a tote bag made of recycled pet bottles (polyethylene) which I can use up to about a year before it falls apart. Apparently though polyethylene cannot be recycled indefinitely. Switzerland where I lived for quite a few years, is way ahead in taking care of our planet than many other countries.
In Sweden there is a supermarket that has gone beyond the simple charging for plastic bags. One pilot program at Hemköp in Stockholm where you can buy their plastic bag , use it as many times as you wish and when you bring it back, you get your deposit back. In Sweden, we have this deposit system with PET bottles , it would be dream come true, if we can do this also with plastic bags. What do you do? What happens in your country? Do you have any more great ideas how to reduce the plastic? We can all do something, just to say no to “Would you like a bag with that? “ helps. Let's do this together
Source: Ian Somerhalder foundation , Larissa H
Photo by @jtamedia