Shoppers worldwide are using 500 billion to one trillion single-use plastic bags per year. The average use time of a plastic bag is 12 minutes. Plastic bags pollute our waters, smother wetlands and entangle and kill animals. This eventually affects our health because larger animals eat small, plastic-laden creatures and plastics work their way up the food chain until eventually, humans consume animals that have eaten some form of plastic. Plastic is non-biodegradable and is made from a non-renewable resource: oil. An estimated 3 million barrels of oil are required to produce the 19 billion plastic bags used annually in California.
As of this writing, 35 countries have already banned the use of plastic bags, 9 countries have passed levies and fees on use, 12 countries are considering bans or fees and 26 states in the US have introduced a form of legislation concerning plastic bag use. Most plastic contains harmful chemicals like BPA and phthalates, which can be unsafe for human consumption or use. These can be avoided by substituting plastic materials and products with other alternative materials like reusable cloth bags, stainless steel water bottles and other wooden, glass and metal substitutes. With the preservation of our environment becoming increasingly critical, what steps will you take to reduce plastic use?
“Got Plastic???” Jim Ries, One More Generation, November 29, 2010. http://onemoregeneration.org/2010/11/29/got-plastic
“Plastic Rap: Here Are 10 Ways to Reduce Plastics in Your Home,” Lisa Davis, The Southern.com, McClatchy-Tribune News, January 31, 2010. http://thesouthern.com/lifestyles/leisure/article_2e25cb1c-0e21-11df-8b25-001cc4c002e0.html
“The Retail Bags Report Maps and Related Detailed Lists Page | Division of Waste Management | Florida DEP,” Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Web Update: 28 Jan. 2011. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/retailbags/pages/mapsandlists.htm
Save The Bay – San Francisco Bay’s Leading Champion since 1961. http://www.savesfbay.org/about-campaign
Student Researcher: Robert Usher, San Francisco State University
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University