OMG... Ban Plastic Bags Already. Seriously.

Ban Plastic Bags And Do It Now

There has been so much hype, people huffing and puffing over this issue. In this post we are going to lay it down and put this to rest - seriously. There are many things we can't do in the US because they are bad... You can't drive drunk because you can hurt someone or yourself, if caught you will get your license taken away. Bad actions are regulated and meant to protect you and others. Plastic bags are being used over and over again and not getting recycled. Even worst, some are being tossed out with the trash or on the street! Marine life is suffering, our oceans trashed and the environment is paying the price for our actions... Now it's time for regulation. We brought this upon ourselves!

Even if 100% of plastic bags are recycled, they still harmful to the environment because of production and the fact that they are made from oil - period. Plastic bags are convenient and free, that's why we are addicted to them, and it's going to take more than buying those 99-cent thicker reusable plastic bags sold at Wholefoods and Target to get us out of this mess - but that's another issue. For now, let's tackle some of the reasons why we need to ban plastic bags now!

1. They Use up Natural Resources

The most common plastic bags you see today are made from polyethylene (even those cheap reusable bags). This material is made from crude oil and natural gas, both non-renewable resources.

"Every time we use a new plastic bag they go and get more petroleum from the Middle East and bring it over in tankers," said Stephanie Barger, executive director of Earth Resource Foundation in Costa Mesa, California. "We are extracting and destroying the Earth to use a plastic bag for 10 minutes."

2. They Harm Wildlife and Marine Life

Plastic bags are now ubiquitous in our environment, and animals both on land and in water are being strangled, choked and killed by them. Plastic bags are now the fifth most common debris item found on beaches, according to the Ocean Conservancy, and international coastal cleanups have turned up more than 354,000 stray bags each year.

Meanwhile, Planet Ark, an international environmental group, estimates that, worldwide, 100,000 whales, seals, turtles and other marine animals are killed by plastic bags each year.

3. Single-use plastic bags are nearly impossible to recycle

Despite all the lobbying by the plastics industry to push recycling of plastic bags, the rate is less than 5% in California. Because they are thin and lightweight, recycling plastic bags is difficult and the return on the effort to recycle them is minimal or non-existent. In Los Angeles County, over 90% of the bags collected in municipalities surveyed ended up being shipped to a landfill rather than recycled, due to contamination from food or pet waste, and the tendency of plastic bags to jam recycling machinery.

4. They Create Litter

Plastic bag use is now so prolific around the world that the bags have become a major source of litter. Aside from polluting beaches and waterways, plastic bags blowing around streets in China are so common they've earned the name "white pollution."

5. They Take a Long Time to Biodegrade

Most plastic bags used either end up as litter or in landfills (less than 1 percent are recycled). In a landfill, it's estimated that one plastic bag takes about 1,000 years to biodegrade. A plastic bag floating around as litter takes about 20 years.

6. There are no free plastic bags!

People, people, people... Do you really think any business gives away anything for free? The cost of plastic bags is 3-5 cents buried in the purchase price of your groceries or consumer goods.

Then, there is the clean up cost for plastic bag pollution… One study found that the cost of cleanup amounts to 17 cents a bag, that translates to the average taxpayer paying about $88 per year on plastic bag waste – What a waste!

When it comes to the environment, paper bags aren't any better than plastic ones. The best bet (for the environment and to save energy) is to use a reusable cloth bag to do your shopping.

7. They can be Hazardous to Humans

Plastic bags pose a suffocation hazard to people, particularly children, and pets. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) receives an average of 25 reports each year in which a child has suffocated from a plastic bag.

8. They are just plain ugly

9. Green Jobs For Americans Now!

Part of the argument is "What about all the plastic bag manufactures that will lose their jobs?' "We need all the jobs we can get". This is simply short sighted and old-fashion thinking and frankly it pisses me off.

When is the last time you had a milk man come to your door? It was replaced by an invention called the refrigerator.

When is the last time you made a call and got a switchboard operator?

Remember the video store Blockbuster? Many have closed down in place of streaming videos from Netflix.

Point is - all these industries grew and changed with the times. They were replaced by better more useful products. Why on Earth are we refusing to let the same thing happen to the plastic bag industry and deny Americans green jobs?! It doesn't make sense! It's called progress, and it happens to every industry and I'm sure one day it will happen to the reusable bag industry as well.

The reason why this is a big issue is because the plastic bag industry is fighting for NO change. They have been somewhat successful brainwashing and scaring people into thinking they need plastic bags. Don't be fooled. Take a look at this misleading ad designed to scare you into not supporting the ban. It's like watching a trailer for a bad scary movie, complete with scary music and scary voice-over guy.

Don't be intimidated. Take a deep breath, it will be alright. Think long and hard about what is really going on around this issue and make a decision.

Photo: Evolution of the portable music player from 1959-2010

Manuel Martinez

Project GreenBag, 2200 Market St, San Francisco, CA, 94114, United States