Here in the UK, we go through over 8 billion plastic bags every year. That's 130 per person.
Most of these won't end up being recycled. They will collect in landfills and drift across our country, damaging the environment.
Why are plastic bags bad for the environment?
- Most plastic bags are not biodegradable or recyclable
- They are harmful to wildlife who mistake them for food and choke on them
- They litter the landscape and clog waterways
- Millions of gallons of petroleum is used to produce them
- They can last between 500 and 1000 years in landfills
What do the plastic bag companies have to say about this?
The plastic bag companies are arguing that plastic bags are being demonised. They point out that plastic bags create less carbon footprint than single-use paper bags. But does this undo all the other downsides to plastic carriers?
What's the government doing about it?
Actually, more than you might think. From October 2015, every supermarket will have to charge user 5p per plastic bag (apart from small and medium sized businesses).
This has worked really successfully in Ireland where they've seen a 90 per cent decline in litter and plastic bags entering the waste stream.
Over in the USA, they have banned plastic bags completely from July this year. They're also charging 10 per cent fee on recyclable paper bags, reusuable plastic bags and compostable bags. Pretty good, eh!
What can we do about it?
Firstly, stop using plastic bags. When you go to the shops, stop and think. Do I really need this bag? If you have a tonne of shopping to do, then bring reusable bags.
We always think about that cheesy-but-true quote: "Be the change you want to see in the world." It's as simple as that.