I absolutely hate plastic bags. I abhor them. I loathe them.
I didn’t use to have such strong feelings against them until I realized how wasteful and harmful the practice of using them is. And it’s a habit we all take for granted. Four plastic bags for your groceries, a small one for your new pen from the store, an even tinier one for the allergy medicine you bought at the pharmacy. We rarely give it a second thought, and this attitude has made for some appalling statistics:
Every minute, the world consumes one MILLION plastic bags.
And, as if that wasn’t mind-blowing enough, try wrapping your head around this:
It takes 400 to a THOUSAND years for a plastic bag to fully break down.
Personally, these first two factoids were enough to provoke my personal war against plastic bags. However, if you need more convincing, here are some other bag facts:
- Plastic bags are made from polyethylene, a petroleum product. It only takes roughly NINE plastic bags to drive a car ONE kilometer.
- Taking into account how long it takes for a plastic bag to break down, then the fact is, every single plastic bag ever created still exists.
- If you think it takes FOREVER for the plastic bags to photodegrade (and not biodegrade), the chemical residues stick around even longer, leaching into the soil and ending up in the food we eat and the water we drink.
And if you need more convincing, more astounding plastic bag facts are available here, here and here. But if, hopefully, you’ve been enlightened then here are some ways to reduce your plastic bag consumption:
- Just say no: Because, do you really need the bag? Chances are, if you’re buying small items (a DVD, a tube of lip balm, a pair of socks, a roll of scotch tape, etc.), they will most likely fit in your handbag. As long as there is little risk of spillage/stains/damage to your handbag, then say no to that tiny (and practically unreusable) plastic bag from Mercury Drug.
- Get yourself a reusable bag: The anti-plastic bag movement has grown strong enough that you no longer have to shell out upwards of 400 PHP for an eco bag. My personal collection includes some bought for 50 PHP in Hong Kong, one from Beansprout and one from Bench, my favorite because it’s made from recycled PET bottles, (although I don’t like how the straps are set).
And I know these tips seem like “duh”, no-brainer types of suggestions but I think they’re worth repeating. There are still way too many people taking the bags for their tiny purchases and too little carrying their shopping in reusable bags. I think most people either can’t be bothered to find eco bags and/or spend on them or people just aren’t thinking about it at the checkout. I suppose it’s a habit that’s hard to break. But here’s a trick that I hope will work. If you can’t remember all the little facts above, then the next time the cashier is putting that nail polish/chocolate bar/greeting card in a plastic bag, remember this picture. Hopefully, it’ll remind you of the damage that one tiny bag can do.