Eliminating the production and use of plastic and paper shopping bags before it’s too late

Eliminating the production and use of plastic and paper shopping bags before it’s too late

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What is the problem?

Plastic and paper shopping bags, contrary to popular belief, are both very harmful to the environment, because plastics are designed specifically to resist decomposition  and therefore polluted the environment; and the creation of paper bags costs the lives of billions of trees. This problem effects everyone and all living organisms residing on our planet and if these products continue to pollute our planet, it is possible that in the near future, Earth will not be able to sustain life. 

We are killing our planet!

Despite efforts to reduce tropical deforestation, tree cover loss has nearly doubled over the past 15 years. In 2017, 39 million acres (15.8 million hectares) disappeared according to new data released by the research group World Resources Institute (WRI) at the Oslo Tropical Forest Forum. Over the past 65 years, annual production of plastics increased nearly 200-fold to 381 million tonnes in 2015 according to an article written by Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser. The creation of these harmful bags are not worth the price that we sacrifice for the convenience. 

How can we live without plastic and paper bags? 

Eliminating plastic and paper bags will be a hard transition, but in the long term, it will save contribute to saving our planet. Plastic and paper bags can be substituted with reusable bags made from better materials such as hemp and bamboo. Bags made from hemp and bamboo fibers will be more durable then the typical plastic or paper shopping bag. Problems that come with plastic and paper shopping bags, such as the fragility of paper bags as soon as they become wet and plastic bags molding due to residual moisture, can all be avoided with reusable bags because they are more durable. Another option made in Indonesia are biodegradable bags made from seaweed. 

How can switching to reusable bags and biodegradable plastics from plastic and paper bags be economically beneficial for businesses?

The average plastic bag costs one to two cents to produce and the average paper bag costs four to five cents to produce according to the New York Times. Reusable bags cost about ten to twenty-five cents to produce and are sold at around one to three dollars. However, reusable bags are more economically efficient due to the nature of costumers reusing their reusable shopping bags. Thus, businesses don't have to buy as many reusable bags compared to the amount of plastic and paper bags they already buy. Plastic and paper shopping bags also cost a lot to recycle. According to the Clean Air Council, recycling one ton of plastic bags costs $4,000, while the recycled product can be sold for only $32.

How can switching from plastic and paper shopping bags to reusable bags benefit you?

Switching from plastic and paper bags will save you the hassle from having to buy paper bags, dealing with fragile paper and plastic shopping bags, and accumulating bags. According to Penn State Statistics, The average american takes home almost 1,500 plastic bags which mostly go to the landfills or ends up somewhere in the world, such as the ocean. Furthermore, millions of dollar per state are spent to properly recycle or dispose plastic bags and switching from plastic and paper bags will save money for the state and the public. 

The worst threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it. The future of all living beings and the matter of our survival all depend on us stepping up and taking a stand to the things that are destroying our home.