Those flimsy disposable shopping bags are everywhere – and we're not just talking about every store and shop. Drive anywhere in the Northern Neck and you see them littering the roadside, hanging in trees, and clogging up the drainage (exacerbating our already destructive flooding). Paddle the waterways and you'll find them all along the shorelines. In the water, the bags and fragments cause terrible harm to the sea life.
According to ReuseThisBag.com, 1.8 billion bags are used and discarded in America every week, and each bag can take up to 1,000 years to break down. That's some very discouraging math.
Plastic bags don’t biodegrade. Exposure to sunlight breaks them down into smaller, toxic particles that look a lot like food to many species. An estimated 1,000,000 birds, 100,000 turtles, and countless other sea animals die each year from ingesting or getting entangled in plastic waste. The rest leeches toxins into the water and soil.
Recycling centers in our area no longer accept disposable plastic bags, although Walmart and some other stores still do...for now. Even when disposed of in a landfill or transfer station, they often take to the wind and escape into the environment.
Plastic bags are made from fossil fuels, and even more energy is used to produce them. Disposable paper bags use even more energy to produce and ship...and about 14 million trees a year for U.S. use.
More than a dozen nations have banned or taxed disposable bags, and a number of U.S. states and municipalities have, too.
So don't forget your reusable grocery bags every time you shop. They can last more than 700 times as long as a disposable bag, are easier to carry, hold 3 times as much, and rarely break.