Plastic grocery bags are convenient and ubiquitous. But they're really bad for the environment. So why do we keep using them?
You can't recycle them at home or in your community.
Plastic grocery bags are not recyclable. This is because the plastic bags are made from polyethylene, a type of plastic that cannot be broken down into its original elements, like carbon and hydrogen. In order to recycle these materials, you need to have the right equipment for breaking down the chemical compounds in order to reuse them—and even then it's still not guaranteed that someone will buy whatever you've reconstructed. In fact, only 6% of single-use plastic bags were recycled in 2018 (according to The Guardian).
You may have heard that plastic bags are bad for the environment because they take a long time to break down, but there are many reasons why you should consider using them. First, most plastic bags are made from oil and other natural resources. Second, since they're reusable, it means you won't need to buy any more! And finally, unlike paper or cardboard alternatives which must be recycled in order to be useful again (which requires additional energy), plastic bags can be recycled over and over again until they're no longer useful.
You may be wondering why cities are banning plastic grocery bags. The answer is simple: they're often not recyclable, and they can clog up landfills.
Plastic grocery bags are a major source of litter. In fact, more than 100 billion plastic grocery bags were used in the United States in 2012 alone. And when these bags get littered, they don't just disappear—they end up polluting our environment, which is bad news for animals that accidentally eat them and humans who breathe the air near garbage dumps (where many plastic bags wind up). These landfills can also cause problems if they leak into nearby water sources as well.
Many retailers charge extra for both paper and plastic, but paper bags are sometimes less expensive than plastic.
The good news is that most stores have a discount code that you can use to save money on your grocery shopping trip. If you're paying extra for a bag, it's worth checking out before you head to the register!
If you don't have a reusable bag, try asking your cashier if they offer any kind of discount when buying an additional bag (or two). This can help cut down on waste by reducing the number of disposable bags used at checkout.
If you haven’t made the switch to reusable grocery bags, now is the time to do so. The environment needs your help! It’s easy to get a good reusable bag and keep it clean and ready for use. Just follow these simple steps:
The most obvious reason people continue to use plastic grocery bags is because they’re free. It’s hard to break an addiction when you don’t have any financial consequences for doing so, but if you feel like your grocery store is taking advantage of this fact by charging 10 cents per plastic bag and giving customers more than they need (an average of 3.2 bags), then maybe it’s time to take action.
People like them.
You probably know this already, but it's the most important reason for their continued use. Plastic bags are cheap, disposable and easy to use. They're convenient in terms of accessibility (i.e., grocery stores are everywhere), and they're strong and durable enough that you can stuff them full of heavy objects without fear of breaking or tearing them. People are used to using them; most people have rarely seen anything else as an option when shopping at the store — so why would they?
The reality is that we are in a crisis when it comes to plastic bags and their use in our society. As more people become aware of the environmental impact of these bags, hopefully they will start to make changes around their home or office. If you're out shopping and forget your reusable bag, just remember that most stores have options for paper or plastic at no extra cost!