Time to Toss the Plastic Bag


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Say no to plastic bags poster. Disposable cellophane and polythene package prohibition sign. Pollution problem concept. Vector illustration.

Americans use billions of plastic bags every day, whether it’s for buying groceries or just shopping in general. As of late, many institutions worldwide, such as the United Kingdom and Ireland, are putting a tax on or completely banning plastic bags altogether from grocery stores.

Should the U.S take the hint and ban plastic bags completely?

Every year millions of dollars are spent per state recycling plastic bags, working to keep them out of the landfills and oceans. Ten percent of the trillion plastic bags used in a year end up in the ocean alone. Continuously pouring money into a cause that is simple to fix seems like a waste of time. This valuable money could be used in numerous ways instead, such as giving it to schools in need or providing meals for families. 

Polyethylene is the main material plastic bags are made out of, and it takes decades to decompose. Although some could argue plastic bags could be reused by using them multiple times after the grocery store, more often than not they end up right in the trash. It takes 52 reuses of a plastic bag to be considered a reusable one, and many people throw it away after one use. By 2050, it’s estimated that there will be more plastic waste in our oceans than fish. If this cause isn’t fixed now, our future generations are going to have a difficult future.

While people may know about the harms of plastic bags on the environment, many argue that the convenient, light weight, portable plastic bags are much simpler and faster to use at grocery stores. They forget to bring their bags as it isn’t strictly enforced and some just don’t see it as necessary, or they use grocery delivery services which don’t have an option for reusable bags. 

By enforcing stricter bag policies at grocery stores, the message is going to be spread much faster that our environment is crying for help. Stores could add emotional posters of animals in oceans with bags over their heads, pushing customers to remember to bring their reusable bags next time they shop. More states could join California, Delaware, New York, and Rhode Island in adding a tax to bags, creating a financial incentive for people to bring their own bags instead. 

Small changes don’t seem long term, but change starts with us. If we enforce stricter policies at grocery stores, recycle plastic bags, reduce single-use plastics, participate in plastic cleanups at beaches or parks, spread the word, and remind others to be mindful of the damage they create by not recycling, Mother Nature will thank us.The world is in the younger generations’ hands; we need to be the change so we see the change. Do your part to keep our planet alive.