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Plastic bags are evil

Plastic bags are evil! At least that is the general consensus online.  Apparently they last for five hundred to a thousand years. That is a long time! Of course, you or I won’t be around to see that when the dreaded plastic bag has its day, so what responsibility do we owe to the Earth to eradicate them?

Let’s look at the pros and cons of plastic bags.

Their convenience is indisputable as they have various uses and can live many lives. I myself cannot imagine never using them as bin liners and having to wash out the bin every time it is full. They are great at concealing smells and unavoidable everyday mess. They are a waterproof lifesaver for a wet bikini, and a perfect barrier between you and the dog poo.

Now for the cons. They break, so they may only have one short-lived use. They end up in landfill where it is nearly impossible for them to break down. When they do break down, the plastics will find their way into the food chain. In Oceans, they can last intact for many years and can kill sea birds and hundreds and thousands of animals such as whales, dolphins, turtles and seals each year.

There are some states and territories now around the world that have eliminated the use of plastic bags at the supermarket checkout. This seems like a wonderful idea at the time. Yet, as mentioned previously, households are quite used to a plastic bin liner and thus the sales of commercial bin bags have doubled in some areas. These bags are also thicker and more durable which in turn are even harder to break down.

There is another alternative that retailers have been embracing and that is the reusable bag. Some retailers even offer a cash discount for bringing in reusable bags. A great idea if you can remember to take it with you every time you swing by the shops. Be careful as these bags can sometimes be made of plastics and although recyclable, they are not biodegradable. There are some wonderful reusable bags on the market that are also biodegradable and they come in the form of jute, canvas, calico and hemp.

Another option is the single use biodegradable plastic bag, which is contentious as there needs to be specific light and oxygen conditions for this degradation to take place. Also, biodegradable plastics break up into small pieces that can more easily enter the food chain.

As you can see there are many options out there to think about when it comes to the plastic bag. I believe a great philosophy to live by is to do all you possibly can to help the planet. Try to stick to reusable, biodegradable bags wherever possible and ultimately you will help reduce the number of plastic bags being produced.

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