Plastic bags today have become a necessity for the everyday household. Being used as shopping bags, garbage bags, and even storage bags for the attic, plastic bags have remained an everyday item in homes for the past few decades. Plastic bags, however, are also an abomination that is slowly consuming our planet. Here are just a few reasons why plastic bags should be banned for good.
Made from fossil fuels
This reason alone is enough to justify the banning of plastic bags from our lives. Fossil fuels as we all know are an increasing danger to our planet; causing global warming, air pollution, and the deaths of hundreds of living beings. The petroleum used to make plastic is not just a problem because it’s a fossil fuel, but the process used to extract and refine petroleum even before the production stage is a major concern for the environment.
Pollute both land and water
There is little doubt over what is the biggest pollutant in the seas. Plastic bags have caused irreversible damage to the ocean and the life underwater, and are also one of the main pollutants on land as well. This is especially true in third world countries where there is no proper disposal system of single-use plastic bags, which means most of them either pile up in the streets or are dumped in landfills where they pile up over the years to create gigantic mountains full of plastic bags.
The problem isn’t just limited to developing countries. Single-use plastic bags have no proper way of getting disposed off except being thrown in landfills and then incinerated, which releases toxic gases into the atmosphere (polluting the air as well). Having no proper method of disposal which doesn’t involve polluting the environment is exactly why plastic bags should be banned completely.
Pollute the air
Although we have gone through this, I feel there needs to be a separate explanation for this. Since plastics are made from petroleum and chemicals, burning plastic bags produces a ton of toxic gases that harm the atmosphere and affect the people living near the burning site.
However, that isn’t the only way plastic bags pollute the air. When on land or water for long periods of time, plastic bags go through a process known as photodegradation. Photodegradation causes the chemicals in the plastic bags to break down in the presence of light, creating smaller pieces of plastic (equally as dangerous) and suspending harmful chemicals in the air. Although the process is relatively slow, you can only imagine the amount of damage caused by the ton of plastic bags in a single landfill.
Kill wildlife and marine life
Thousands of species have been affected by the increase in the use of plastic bags, both on land and underwater. The amount of land and marine animals that have choked on, ingested, and died from plastic bags is one of the major reasons why plastic bags should be banned.
Although all types of plastic play a role in killing the innocent wildlife on land and sea that may have mistaken them for food, plastic bags, in particular, have proven to be extremely dangerous since they are easily consumed and the victim is not aware of the danger until it starts choking on it. Around 100,000 marine animals die because of single-use plastic bags every single year, and with land animals not even in this count, it’s really scary just imagining the amount of harm plastic bags are causing to innocent animals.
Consumed by humans
Wait, what? How can plastic bags be consumed by humans? Animals may mistake them for food but we’re well aware of what a plastic bag looks like, so it’s ridiculous, right? Well, not exactly… Plastics when consumed by animals and fish bio-accumulate into their system (considering they don’t die that is!) and continue to disrupt the normal functioning of their body by releasing harmful chemicals such as PCBs, and yet remain unnoticed to the naked eye.
When humans consume these fish and animals, they in turn are also consuming the chemicals absorbed into their system. Eating the contaminated meat can cause a number of hormonal disorders and even develop cancers, and the most dangerous part is that you can’t even tell whether the food you’re eating has been contaminated by those chemicals.
Since streams of water are often polluted with single-use plastic bags, they often accumulate in bottlenecks, causing the streams to be clogged over time. The plastic bags then require specialized labor (usually the people from waste management) who would require time to remove the blockage and restore the water supply. This is a major problem in communities that are dependent on streams for their agricultural land as well as consumption.
In urban areas, plastic bags may also cause blockage in drains and other waterways, causing water to build up and be contaminated by bacteria and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. These mosquitoes multiply at an astonishing rate, which may cause a major mosquito infestation in the area, increasing the risk of diseases such as dengue and malaria.
Make waste management difficult
Apart from causing pollution and being harmful to wildlife and humans, plastic bags also are difficult and costly to clean up after use. As plastic bags cannot be properly disposed of, they simply consume space and continue to pile up over the years in landfills. If waste management decides to incinerate the plastic bags, it must be done in a controlled environment to limit the pollutants from releasing into the atmosphere, which itself is a very costly process.
This is also a major problem in developing countries, where although the incineration process is not that controlled, the real cost lies in picking up hundreds of tons of plastic bags floating around on the streets, which is a very time-consuming process and may involve several people. If plastic bags have clogged a drain or a waterway, cleaning them up can be a very costly procedure since it requires specialized labor and is often time-consuming.
So… what’s the alternative?
Now that we are well aware of why plastic bags should be banned for use entirely, we need to figure out what options we have that may serve as more eco friendly alternatives to plastic bags. Obviously, plastic bags are a major part of every household, so removing them completely from our lives without a viable alternative is simply not possible.
It turns out that several manufacturers have thought well ahead and started the mass production of environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic bags using materials such as bioplastic, biodegradable plastics, and even bamboo. The best part? The prices are almost the same as your conventional plastic garbage bags!
Today, there are thousands of options to choose from online, with eco friendly plastic bags coming in different shapes, sizes, and colors. A good example are these eco friendly garbage bags which offer the same durability and reliability with a much smaller carbon footprint.
Removing plastic bags from our lives is difficult, but not impossible. Seeing how these are just a few of the reasons why plastic bags should be banned, it has become a necessity that we take action. It will take some time, but will surely leave a healthier future for our children.