Public Service Announcement
It is not very uncommon to see a pile of plastic shopping bags forming a small mountain in the back of my car.
Weird. Since I try really hard not to use plastic shopping bags when I go to any store.
But every once in a while, there they are. Sometimes, they sit in there for days making me feel like Lunchbox from The Bobby Bones Show, who is always called out for "hoarding" trash in his car that he saved from its fate in the dump but has yet move it to the appropriate recycling venues.
Sometimes, that's me.
But don't get me wrong here. There are a lot of times I forget my own reusable bags or I forget to tell the clerk that I don't want a bag, etc. So some of them are mine. The rest are the ones I save from work.
I try really hard that no plastic bag gets thrown out. No sir. Not on my watch. I really believe in reducing our waste and even our recycling products (since it still takes energy to break them down), and thus want to spread the gospel of getting your reusable bags out of the closet, trunk, or wherever you keep forgetting about them. I do, though, acknowledge that most people use them. And until the day when stores start charging folks for using plastic bags (like they do in several other countries like South Africa) that isn't really going to change.
So this is my PSA to say, please do not throw your plastic bags in the trash.
Here is why.
Every year, about 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags get thrown out worldwide. In fact, plastic bags leave stores at a higher rate than any other product. And get this, (according to No Impact Man) Americans recycle about 1 percent of all plastic bags used. Instead of being recycled, they are burned (poisoning our air), buried (poisoning our soil), or are swept away by the wind polluting the land and water.
The bags that make it to the ocean could possibly be consumed by sea animals. In the North Pacific alone, it is estimated that 100,000 seas animals have been killed after they tried to digest plastic. Not only is this bad news for the animals that consume the bags, but this is also bad news for humans. Why? Well, the bags (and other plastic items) that don't get eaten eventually break down in the water, leaving a trail of chemicals which are consumed by plankton eaters. These little creatures who eat the chemicals are then devoured by bigger fish, and those fish by bigger ones, until suddenly those fish appear in the freezer section of the grocery store.
It turns out that each of us has in our bodies, detachable amounts of up to one hundred industrial chemicals nobody has even heard of fifty years ago. Many of these chemicals come from the product and use of the same disposable plastic crap that fills my garbage bags. (Exert from No Impact Man)So you see, what we are throwing away doesn't really "go away" whenever the garbage men pick it up and drive it away.
Recycling is good. No using is even better.
So remember whenever you go to the store this week to take your reusable bags. Don't forget, okay?