Say No To Plastic
Over a period of forty years, plastic bags went from being a wonder to a threat. When the Swedish engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin invented them in 1959, they were meant to be a better alternative to paper bags, which were thought to have been bad for the environment because of the chopping down of trees and for the prevention of deforestation. Plastic Bags were lighter in weight, easier to make, durable, waterproof and cheaper to ship, so their convenience appealed immensely to both the producer/ supplier and the consumer. In the late 1980’s they had almost replaced paper bags worldwide. Today, about one trillion plastic bags are generated in the world annually. In the US 100 billion plastic bags are produced yearly and four out of five bags in the grocery store are plastic.The negative consequences of using plastic bags were unforeseen until they started popping up in the environment. Presently, plastic bags are one of three plastic products that cause plastic pollution in the world. Most single use plastics when discarded eventually end up at landfills, and if not, they end up in the waterways. They break into small microplastics that can absorb other pollutants, or end up being consumed by sea creatures that mistake them for food, which ends up hurting or killing them. One significant challenge is that almost all the plastic bags produced are intended for single use. Aside from the reusability issue the production of the material relies mainly on non-renewable resources, and the recycling systems are not currently set up to accept these bags. Out of the all the plastic bags sold in the US only 1% is recycled.The reasons for this are: many recycling facilities do not have the required equipment to collect, sort and handle the bags; there are several different types of plastics used for bags, so the waste stream is not pure; and producing bags from new plastic is often cheaper than producing them from recycled plastic.