According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 380 billion plastic shopping bags are used in the U.S. annually. Only a tiny fraction (0.6 percent) of the plastic bags are recycled. As many as 1 trillion plastic bags may be used globally each year, or about one million bags per minute.
It takes 1,000 years for plastic bags to degrade. In addition, plastic bags contain harmful chemical such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and diethylhexyl phthalate, which is a carcinogen. About 100,000 birds, marine mammals, whales, and sea turtles each year either choke to death on plastic bags, or die of an intestinal blockage after eating one.
Steps are being taken in many countries to curb plastic bag use. The Republic of Ireland has enacted a 15 cent tax on plastic shopping bags, which has curbed their use by 90 percent in that country. Bangladesh banned plastic shopping bag after finding that they were blocking drainage systems and causing floods. Taiwan, Singapore, South Africa, and several East African countries have also banned plastic shopping bags. The housewares chain IKEA is now charging five cents per plastic bag, and estimates the move will reduce plastic bag use in their U.S. stores by 50 percent.San Francisco will soon become the first city in North America to ban plastic bags from supermarkets and pharmacies.
The Intelligence Daily June 27, 2007
I’m glad to see that many regions are taking action to curtail the excessive use and waste of plastic bags. More measures like these are needed to protect future generations and the environment, but you can act now simply by using cloth grocery bags in lieu of plastic ones.
Yes this may seem like a hassle but if we all started to do this and pitch in then we could limit the use of this onslaught of absoluetely unnecessary plastic that is such a waste and drain on the environment.
Pollution from plastic bags exposes your body to all sorts of toxins and is actually turning our oceans into plastic. In addition to the wildlife deaths they cause and the chemical additives from plastics that are now showing up in our environment, plastic bags use up huge quantities of oil (it takes 430,000 gallons of oil to produce 100 million plastic bags).
Plastics can make you sick by mimicking or blocking sex hormones, causing disruption of your endocrine system. Perhaps the most dangerous chemicals used in plastics are phthalates, which can affect everything from development and behavior to reproduction and immunity. They have been shown to hasten puberty in children and cause many other problems.
Plastics may indeed have been the "wave of the future" for industry some 40 years ago, but we're paying for that dearly with our health today. Your body must constantly endure exposures to petroleum-based industrial chemicals contained in things most people take for granted, like plastic bags, bottled water and cosmetics. Particularly vulnerable are your children, who are exposed to plastics in the hospital and through baby bottles and toys.You can start avoiding environmental toxins today by reading my common-sense, easy-to-follow tips.