How Do Plastic Bags Affect Our Environment?

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How Do Plastic Bags Affect Our Environment?

Plastic bags tend to disrupt the environment in a serious way. They get into soil and slowly release toxic chemicals. They eventually break down into the soil, with the unfortunate consequence being that animals eat them and often choke and die.

The petroleum and the gas that’s used to create plastic bags is a finite resource. We only have a limited amount to use. We already have a problem with what we’re going to do in the next 50 – 100 years so why are we compounding it? There are also environmentally issues existing in their own right, when extracting petroleum from the Earth.
But perhaps a bigger problem is the sheer number of plastic bags that we consume globally, (the current estimates are 500 million to 1Bn throughout the entire world).

 

What happens to the bags once they have been used?

There are many places that they can be taken to be recycled, but in reality figures show that only 1% of all plastic bags are recycled, with most heading for landfill, or worse, our oceans.

 

The effect on the environment

Over 100,000 animals are suspected of coming to this unfortunate end throughout the world every single year, on both land and in our oceans. Plastic bags which pollute our oceans have a bad habit of killing sea turtles in particular. They are by far the biggest casualty in all of this as they mistake carrier bags for jelly fish, or similar and then end up choking.

 

Paper bags as an alternative?

A lot of people think that paper bag are a good alternative to plastic bags but they’re not. They are actually really energy intensive and unless they are made from recycled paper products, they are cutting down trees as well. In all honesty they are really not much better than plastic bags, so give them a wide berth too if possible.

The only real option is to go with a reusable bag. The so called; ‘Eco bag’. There is nothing special about an eco bag, other than they are usually ethically made and are re-usable. They are also far more study than a plastic bag and can often hold more than its plastic counterpart.

The sad thing is, is that this is preventable if we as a species can change one minor habit in our lives and a small one at that.


Greener Ideal is an independent environmental news and lifestyle publication that has been curating content since 2008 to further the green movement. The views expressed by contributing authors are their own and may not reflect those of Greener Ideal.

  • Ray Scott

    Very curious…when you say “They get into soil and slowly release toxic chemicals” what are the substances you are referring to? I have heard this before but no one will say what toxic substance is in the bag…

  • Alan Andrew

    Nothing completely degrades in modern landfills because of the lack of water, light, oxygen and other important elements that are necessary for the degradation process to be completed.

    Plastic bags never biodegrade. They photodegrade, meaning they simply break into smaller pieces of plastic. When exposed to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, polyethylene’s polymer chains become brittle and start to crack. This suggests that plastic bags will eventually fragment into microscopic granules.
    When plastic bags are disposed of in the ocean, they release a toxin called Dichlorodiphenlydichloroethylene (DDE), which removes hydrogen from the plastic. DDE acts as a poison to the marine life and could have severe consequences, such as making them ill due to pollution.

  • Mythious

    Thank you vary much for the useful information

  • bob

    thanks i needed this stuff for a report and I ‘ll remember not to use plastic bags