Plastic, unlike many other modern materials, not only requires valuable resources to produce, such as petroleum and natural gas, but also permeates the environment on a large scale due to it’s inability to break down. Plastic bags alone take up to 1,000 years to degrade. That is to say, break down into smaller and smaller pieces, because plastic is not biodegradable.
Yet despite this fact, the average plastic bag is only used for about 12 minutes before it is discarded: thus creating an unimaginable amount of plastic waste in our homes, landfills, streets, and waterways.
Luckily, one of the simplest and most economical ways to decrease our plastic consumption is by using eco-friendly bags. There are numerous advantages to using eco-friendly bags, including reduced waste, increased convenience, and many others.
- Less plastic waste in the environment. We currently use 500 billion bags annually, worldwide. That’s 150 plastic bags per person, per year. If you connected all of those bags from end to end, it would circumnavigate the world 4,200 times. Needless to say, an eco-friendly bag would significantly reduce this number.
- Photo degradation, ingestion, and pollution. Plastic bags that don’t make it to the landfill or recycling plant are at risk for photo degradation (light exposure that releases toxic polymer particles), ingestion (100,000 mammals each year), or pollution (10% of all coastline debris). The use of eco-friendly bags reduces the amount of plastic bags entering the environment, and therefore the possibilities thereafter.
- Less fossil fuels and natural resources used for years to come. It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce plastic bags each year for the US alone. And that’s not including transport and disposal. By investing in an eco-friendly bag, you’re contributing to less fossil fuel use, saving water, and promoting more sustainable resource distribution.
- Plastic tax. Many stores, cities, and even entire countries are banning the use of plastic bags, or taxing any necessary use of them. By switching to an eco-friendly bag, you’ll be able to avoid any added expense when going shopping.
- Less money for cleanup. It takes $4,000 USD to recycle one ton of plastic bags, which then creates a product that can be sold for $32. Plastic bags may be cheap and convenient to use, but they are expensive to clean up. The money and taxpayer dollars being put towards plastic bag cleanup could be much more beneficial elsewhere.
- Stronger and more comfortable. Eco-friendly bags are stronger and more durable than conventional plastic bags. They’re also much more comfortable to carry than traditional HDPE bags. Therefore, you’re able to carry more with less stress on your hands and body in order to do so.
- Support and show environmental friendliness. Eco-friendly bags are also a great way to show your support for the environment or any other cause. You can do this merely by using a generic bag, or by purchasing one with your favorite brand or slogan on it. There are a wide variety of reusable bags that come in different shapes, colors, and bold messages.
- Takes up less space. We’ve all got that plastic bag stash in our pantry or cupboard. Ditch the plastic stash in place of one or two reusables and save yourself room and stress!
- Many reusable bags, if made out of natural materials, are biodegradable. So trade in your plastic habits that take up to 1,000 years to degrade into smaller and smaller pieces for something that is not only environmentally friendly, but also returns to the earth once you’re finished using it.
- Peace of mind—Doing your part to reduce plastic pollution. There are many problems associated with excessive plastic bag waste. If just one person transitions to reusable bags instead of plastic, they’ll save 22,000 plastic bags over a ilfetime. In using an eco-friendly bag, you’ll shop knowing that you’re purchasing in a responsible way, doing your part to reduce plastic bag use for the years to come.
The advantages to using eco-friendly bags over plastic bags are endless. The biggest challenge to making that transition is actually doing it!
If you’re looking to make more changes to your plastic consumption, check out our guide: Ways to Reduce Plastic Use.