It can seem hard to escape plastic in our modern lives. Plastic bags are everywhere and trolleys full of them leave the grocery store every minute. If you are still using single-use plastic bags, it is high time to consider taking a more environmentally friendly route. Here are some compelling reasons why you should switch to reusable shopping bags.
Plastic bags may seem light and inoffensive but they have a surprisingly large environmental footprint. Approximately 8 percent of the world’s total oil production is used to make plastic and 12 million barrels of oil are used to manufacture the 30 billion plastic bags consumed in the United States each year. Furthermore, plastic bags use fossil fuels as they are shipped around the country or the world.
Each plastic bag is used for a mere 12 minutes on average. After this time, the plastic bag becomes waste. Communities and governments spend millions of dollars to manage the ballooning amount of plastic waste. The California Integrated Waste Management Board estimates that taxpayers spend $25 million each year to landfill plastic bags and the city of San Jose alone spends $3 million annually to remove plastic bags from its waterways.
Plastic pollution is a serious global problem. Because plastic can take a minimum of 500 years to biodegrade, millions of tons of plastic waste are filling up our landfills and flooding into our oceans. This plastic waste kills wildlife indiscriminately by trapping, strangling, choking, and poisoning them. It is estimated that 1 million marine birds and 100,000 marine mammals die from plastic ingestion every year.
In addition, large pieces of plastic break down into smaller pieces of plastic over time. These tiny microplastics move through the ecosystem and the food chain, absorbing toxins that are released when they are later ingested. Microplastics have now been found in our soil, our drinking water, a myriad of animals, and even in human placenta.
Many places in the world, including the United States, now impose a plastic bag levy on customers. While a plastic bag that only costs you a nickel may seem cheap, the expense can add up rapidly. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average American family uses 1,500 plastic bags every year. At a nickel a bag, you can end up spending $75 annually.
Meanwhile, reusable bags are a one-time purchase that can last for years. They cost only a handful of dollars at most and can be easily purchased in most retail stores and supermarkets. Some places even throw in a reusable bag for free with a minimum purchase or offer discounts to shoppers who bring their own reusable bags.
Plastic bags at check-outs are designed for single use. They are only supposed to last as long as the trip home from the store, so they are typically flimsy and thin. Everyone has experienced plastic bags ripping from sharp items or their handles tearing off from a heavy load—a very inconvenient occurrence when it happens halfway through your commute.
On the other hand, reusable bags are tougher and more durable. They can carry more weight than regular plastic bags and are less like to tear even when packed with sharp objects. This means quicker bagging, fewer bags to carry, fewer trips to and from your vehicle, and easier loading and unloading.
Suit Your Style
Reusable shopping bags come in a huge variety of different materials and designs. From cotton and canvas to fabric made from recycled water bottles, consumers are spoilt for choice. While the materials may vary, all reusable shopping bags are lightweight, durable, and washable, allowing for several years of versatile use.
Reusable bags can be much more attractive than boring single-use plastic bags. Many brands are joining the reusable bag movement. With so many stores stocking their own range of reusable bags, you can get custom reusable bags from your favorite brand. Or you could choose a reusable bag with a design or slogan that you love.
Declutter Your Space
Although you may plan to reuse the plastic bags from the grocery store for putting out the trash or picking up dog poop, it can be impossible to use as many bags as you collect. This is why most people end up with kitchen drawers full of plastic bags or multiple plastic bags that are stuffed with other plastic bags just taking up valuable storage space.
As we grow increasingly aware of how clutter negatively affects our mental and emotional health, more people are seeking to adopt a cleaner, more minimalist lifestyle. Instead of having a continuous flow of plastic bags that you have to find uses for, switch to reusable bags. Your plastic bag collection will dwindle and you will enjoy more space for important things.
By using a reusable shopping bag, you can decrease the resources used on plastic bag production and disposal and protect the environment from plastic pollution. At the same time, you can save money, look stylish, and enjoy a better quality of life. With so many reasons to switch to reusable shopping bags, everyone should say goodbye to single-use plastic bags.