Is It Time For a Worldwide Ban on Single-use Plastic Bags?

Let me state for the record, that with few exceptions, I do not like governmental bans or restrictions on personal behavior. That means the number of ounces of soda one can drink, or the amount on salt or kind of light bulbs that can be used; all should be off limits to the nosey bureaucrats’ intent on controlling every aspect of our daily lives.
There are, however, exigent circumstances when the harm being done is so massive that intervention in the form of bans is necessary. So it is with the worldwide pollution caused by the indiscriminate use of plastics for convenience rather than necessity.
Unlike climate change, very few are challenging the reality of the plastic trash and debris crisis. Estimates of single-use plastic bags range from 500 billion to 1 trillion bags worldwide every year. Virtually no corner of the globe has been left uncovered by plastic trash. Very few pristine locations remain unsullied.
Whether we are talking about whales off the coast of Spain , cows in India, or camels in the Egyptian desert or monkeys in East Java, globally many thousands of animals die ingesting plastics and then dying of starvation every year.
The Blue Danube is loaded with more trash than fish. Mount Everest is a mountain of trash and garbage. It is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of ocean pollution comes directly from plastics in the form of plastic bags, toothbrushes, containers of every shape and description, toys, and bottles. Time Magazine covered The Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2012, one of the Five Gyres circulating in the oceans.

When Rolling Stone covered the Plastic Bag Wars in 2011, they noted that American shoppers used 102 billion plastic bags yearly. That figure has gone up to 380 billion bags yearly. It is very easy for a family of four to go through 500 plastic bags a year. Remember these are bags designed to last forever and are only used for 15 minutes or less on average.

With all this plastic being produced every year, you’d better believe manufacturers are fighting back using intimidation and litigation in their arsenal of tactics.

Why should you care?

  1. Plastic never goes away. Every piece of plastic produced in the last 50 years still exists unless it was recycled.
  2. 93% of Americans aged six or older have tested positive for BPA, a cancer causing chemical used in plastics.
  3. The search for lost Malaysian flight 370 has been hampered by the global marine litter crisis, as reported by CNN.
  4. The Plastic Bag Report lists 27 states, multiple countries, 102 cities in California and EU with complete bag bans or bans in various stages of legislation.
  5. The list of species testing positive for plastic in their bodies is growing, including 44 percent of all birds, 22 percent of cetaceans and turtles.

A better question is what kind of world do you want to leave to future generations? We are after all only as good as what we leave behind. As Captain Charles Moore notes we should be living our lives like it matters.

 

 

 

The City of Los Angeles is saying NO to plastic bags

PLASTIC WORLD 3

The Los Angeles City Council recently gave approval to an ordinance that will ban single use plastic bags. The ban will be effect beginning in January of 2014 for large retailers. Smaller businesses will be expected to comply beginning in June of 2014.

The bag ban makes Los Angeles the largest city in the country to ban the ubiquitous plastic bag. This is great news for activists worldwide. In addition to saving the environment the ban is projected to save Los Angeles $2 million a year in clean up costs of  plastic litter.

In an effort to help low-income families, Los Angeles is planning  to give out 1 million reusable bags in low-income areas.

San Francisco, Laguna Beach, and Santa Monica already have plastic bag bans in place.

Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste, said in a statement, “By 2014, more than one-third of Californians — 13 million people — will live in communities that no longer have to deal with the scourge and cost of single use plastic grocery bags,” 

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.

DEATH, TAXES, & DOG POOP … 3 THINGS WE CAN BE ASSURED OF!

I’m betting you already know about death and taxes, but not so much about dog poop!  Well, here’s a real eye opener for you.  According to the Association of Animal Waste Specialists:


this country’s seventy-one million pet dogs produce over 4.4 billion pounds of waste per year. That’s enough to cover 900 football fields with 12 inches of dog waste!  Dog feces are more than just a nuisance – pet waste can pose a serious health hazard.

Children run the greatest risk of infection because they’re prone to play in the dirt at the park or playground and then put their hands in their mouths or rub their eyes with their hands.

In addition to health risks associated with dog waste, you need to be concerned with the manner by which the waste is recovered.  If you among the many millions who walk their dogs and carry a PLASTIC BAG for disposal after the walk you are making a serious environmental mistake.  Take heart, initially I wasn’t aware of this mistake either.

The problem with using plastic bags for animal waste is that once thrown away,  they most often end up in landfills.  We now know that plastic lasts forever unless it has been recycled!  The Daily Green puts it this way:

Unfortunately, if you put Lassie’s waste in a plastic bag, it takes up to 100 years to decompose. Flushing it down the toilet is inconvenient, and can potentially cause problems in sewer systems because of its high amount of grit.


If all else fails you can hire doggy poop service … here!