Who doesn’t love shopping? When you go into any store – even if it is just a grocery store – there is so much possibility for your eyes to behold. After all, who doesn’t love to buy something that’s perfect for them? But shopping and consumerism can take its toll on the environment, a consequence that all too many of us do not think about when we are making our purchases.
Much of this damage to our world comes directly from the shopping bags that we cart home our goods in. From the grocery store to the mall, plastic bags are the norm, even though the problems surrounding their use are not small. For instance, plastic bags are far from biodegradable. It is likely that a single plastic bag will take as many as one thousand years before fully breaking down. At minimum, it will be fifteen years before the bag degrades – and this is only in certain environments, as environmental factors affect things like this quite a bit more than many people realize. And even when plastic bags do break down, they are considered to photo degrade instead of bio degrade. This simply means that the pieces that they break down into do not go bag into the earth but pollute our earth even further, most frequently and thoroughly in our oceans.
And the impact of plastic bags on our ocean is certainly not a small one. Aside from small bits of broken down plastic bag ending up in the ocean and polluting it, a problem in and of itself, whole plastic bags all too easily also end up there. In fact, it is estimated that more than ten percent of debris that washes up on the coasts throughout the United States is made up of plastic bags alone. These plastic bags are also incredibly dangerous and detrimental to the lives of the animals who live in and survive off of the sea, from sea turtles to fish to the birds who eat them. When these animals eat plastic, they mistake them for fish or other marine creatures and end up getting very sick – and even dying as a result. In just one year, as many as one hundred thousand marine animals and life forms will die as a result of this.
Paper bags are not much better, even though they would naturally degrade much faster than plastic bags. But though paper bags do degrade faster, this often becomes far from the case for the majority of paper bags, as they end up in landfills. Being in such an environment seriously impedes the process of breaking down for the typical paper bag, and prevents it from degrading as it should. And paper bags have a tremendously negative impact on the environment as well, as fourteen million trees will need to be cut down to produce around ten billion paper bags to be used by the American public, a process that has a profound impact on forests all around the country, one that they do not so easily recover from.
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to stop the negative impact of paper and plastic bag use. For one, buying reusable bags in bulk can make more of a difference than you realize. Reusable bags in bulk can come in many different sizes and can be used for a wide variety of purposes, from grocery shopping to as a wine tote. These reusable bags in bulk can also include insulated bags, which are perfect for transporting your frozen groceries or even for taking trips around the country. Buying reusable bags in bulk can also be repurposed as Halloween trick or treat bags, preventing you from needing to buy an additional bag for child or children’s Halloween celebrations, saving you money as well as saving the environment. And by using reusable bags in bulk, you can help to cut down the use of plastic bags by as many as twenty two thousand plastic bags in total over the course of your life. On top of this, buying reusable bags in bulk is often even simply the cost effective option, as many places all around the country have begun to charge bag taxes.