Controling The Usage Of Plastic Bags

1023 words - 5 pages

According to the Clean Air Council, Americans, consume 20,000 plastic grocery-store bags every five seconds; which totals roughly one-hundred billion bags being used annually. This usage contributes to more than half-million tons of plastics being discarded into our nation’s landfills annually. Since plastic grocery store bags decompose by exposure to radiation from the sun’s ultra violet light and are not biodegradable, plastic bags are estimated to remain in our landfills for up to 1000 years, as stated by many plastic experts and scientists. If the experts are correct the sheer volume of plastic bags, over this time span, would overwhelm our current system of waste disposal. However, not all discarded plastic bags reach landfills; many are left circulating the oceans around the world or blowing with the wind in our national parks or stuck in the white picket fence surrounding our houses; causing great ecological damage to our wildlife. Consumers should no longer have the option of choosing plastic bags over the more earth friendly alternatives such as reusable, biodegradable bags.
Many champions for the continued use of plastic bags, at checkout counters around the country, often tout the low cost and availability of plastic bags, and that banning them in favor of reusable bags would increase prices for consumers. While this argument is narrowly focused; it does, however, have some merit. Plastic bags are purchased in bulk by merchandisers for roughly two cents each. If you consider that, on average, a family uses twenty bags per week; $20.80 would be spent annually; which is collected through increased prices on the items you purchase. Compared to the average cost of six dollars for each reusable bag the difference to be paid upfront is considerable. But, you then must also consider that one reusable bag replaces four disposable bags each week; as the reusable bags are much larger and can carry more weight, and the bags generally have a life span of two years. Meaning the average family would use five reusable bags each week opposed to twenty disposable bags. if you stretch the cost out over the useful life of the reusable bags the average cost of each use would equal six cents. Are four cents more for each use,a price too steep to prevent 1920 plastic bags from filling our landfills, oceans, and country for the next thousand years?
Another argument frequently voiced by the proponents for continued use of disposable plastic bags, is to recycle the discarded bags; which they state will reduce the number of bags in landfills and water ways, while also preserving natural recourses (natural gas).On the surface recycling all of the bags sounds like a wonderful, noble idea, unfortunately, we as a society are a very long way from even beginning to achieve that goal. Currently only one percent of the disposable bags used in America, today, are actually recycled. Complicating the matter further, many municipalities across the states don’t allow...

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