Single-Use Plastic Bags & Bottles Destructive to Our Oceans, Our World

There was a time, not that long ago when you would see countless cigarette butts littering the landscape. Then, something happened ever so slowly, the ugly disgusting cigarette butts began disappearing from bars and restaurants, parking lots, sidewalks, beaches, ashtrays in public and private buildings.

People finally got the message that smoking was not cool but was detrimental to health of everyone surrounded by the smoker.

Can the same thing happen with single-use plastic bags and bottles? I think it can … with YOUR help.  Imagine a world without plastic debris and SAY NO TO PLASTICS

Will Pharrell’s Documentary ‘The Plastic Age’ Help Lessen Our Plastic Addiction?

Pharrell Williams has joined the fight to save our oceans. He talks about his love for the oceans and our need to save them in a new i-D documentary, The Plastic Age.  Let’s face it, how can anyone not like Pharrell, a man whose music impacts countless millions of fans? Clearly, Pharrell knows how get a message out.

His message, let’s turn ocean plastic into something fantastic! This is a very good thing.

He has joined forces with Bionic Yarn to produce a fashion line of denim clothing, G-STARR RAW which is made from recycled plastic trash.  Pharrell is a celebrity joining forces with other talented people to find a solution to a very significant worldwide environmental problem. This is also a very good thing.

The question is, will his efforts motivate enough people to focus on the kind of change needed to meet this global problem head on? Sadly, I think not.

I began writing about the worldwide addiction to all things plastic, mostly single-use plastic bags, in 2008. The devastation caused to birds, animals on land as well as creatures in the sea is unconscionable.  Plastic pollution harms people in the poorest countries the most. These are people without a voice who suffer incredible hardships, as the 17 pictures from The Guardian on-line demonstrate.

Chemicals from the plastics are entering the marine food chain.  Bisphenol –A, a chemical used in the production of plastics is a known carcinogen and hormone disruptor. The New York Times  recently reported that BPA has been linked to rapid rises in blood pressure. It is known to be especially harmful to infants.

I believed once people were alerted to the unimaginable environmental damage caused by plastic pollution change would surely take place. I was wrong.

Our worldwide addiction to plastics is much stronger than could be imagined. But even stronger is the reluctance of people to give up their single-use plastic bags and bottles because it inconveniences them.

Since the time of the cavemen, trash has been thrown out with little thought of its impact on the environment. That was okay when the earth was inhabited by a few million people.

With the world’s population approaching 9 billion people, this behavior is no longer acceptable.

MORE PLASTIC FACTS

Thanks to Reusable Bags for these updated facts on plastic bag pollution

Introduced just over 45 years ago, the ugly truth about our plastic bag addiction is that society’s consumption rate is now estimated at well over 500,000,000,000 (that’s 500 billion) plastic bags annually, or almost 1 million per minute.

  • Single-use bags made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are the main culprit. Once brought into existence to tote your purchases, they’ll accumulate and persist on our planet for up to 1,000 years.
  • Australians alone consume about 6.9 billion plastic bags each year, that’s 326 per person. According to Australia’s Department of Environment, an estimated 49,600,000 annually end up as litter.
  • In 2001, Ireland used 1.2 billion disposable plastic bags, or 316 per person. An extremely successful plastic bag tax, or PlasTax, introduced in 2002 reduced consumption by 90%.
  • According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil are required to make that many plastic bags.
  • Four out of five grocery bags in the US are now plastic.
  • In a dramatic move to stem a tide of 60,000 metric tons of plastic bag and plastic utensil waste per year, Taiwan banned both last year.
  • According to the BBC, only 1 in 200 plastic bags in the UK are recycled.
  • According to the WSJ Target, the second-largest retailer in the U.S., purchases 1.8 billion bags a year.
  • As part of Clean Up Australia Day, in one day nearly 500,000 plastic bags were collected. Unfortunately, each year in Australia an estimated 50,000,000 plastic bags end up as litter.
  • The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store.
  • Each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. The bag will pay for itself if your grocery store offers a $.05 or $.10 credit per bag for bringing your own bags.
  • Windblown plastic bags are so prevalent in Africa that a cottage industry has sprung up harvesting bags and using them to weave hats, and even bags. According to the BBC one group harvests 30,000 per month.