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Paper? Plastic? Neither?

Published: 7th December 2017 15:47

In recent times, there has been a trend of banning the use of plastic bags, not only in the UK, but across the world. Or in some cases, there are certain cities implementing a fee to use them. Another approach some places are taking, is that stores will reward customers for bringing their own reusable bags and take money off their purchase for each bag they bring. According to the Earth Policy Institute, a trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. They also say that “the amount of energy required to make 12 plastic shopping bags could drive a car for a mile.”

Environmentally, plastic bags are an issue for two reasons. They pollute the earth after their intended single-use, and they also take energy to make. Tyler’s argument is that even though they take energy, they still take less energy to make and transport than paper bags, and they do not require pesticides like reusable cotton bags.

 

Deciding which bag to use at the grocery story may not seem like a huge decision, but it can be a very personal one when you are tasked with figuring out which environmental issue is the most important to you individually. The development of a private waste disposal services can be a solution. It’s a promising niche in the business if we are considering the current situation with environmental pollution. Another alternative could be creating your own bags at home, using old fabrics or t-shirts. This would eliminate energy usage and the use of plastic all at once, while incorporating recycling old clothes into the mix, this may be the best option for the earth if people were to take the time to do it.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Across the world, plastic bags are undisputedly showing up in places where they do not belong. It takes years for a plastic bag to disintegrate entirely, and even then it will usually end up as tiny pieces of microplastics that still end up in the environment. The regulation of plastic bags began in 1994 in Denmark, when they started taxing people for their use. Since then, there has been more research done to back the claim that this and many other plastics are harming the environment and simply not going away.

 

The issue now is not so much figuring out if plastic is bad, it is figuring out how to slow down its production and make sure that it does not continue to pollute our earth. There is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the middle of the ocean, and it is filled with all types of plastics that fail to degrade over time. This sort of thing has gained national attention, yet there is still no solution to fix it.

According to the Marine Debris Program, the garbage patch is not always visible to the human eye, and that is most likely why some people say they do not believe in how much it affects the ocean. However, they say, “The debris is continuously mixed by wind and wave action and widely dispersed both over huge surface areas and throughout the top portion of the water column.”

Scientists believe that if we continue to use plastic at the rate we are going, then the size of garbage patches in the ocean will just continue to increase and affect our water and food supply.

The future of plastics and the industry itself may be beginning to look grim

While in the United Kingdom things are generally slow moving with plastic bans and regulations, other parts of the world are really making bold moves toward a different looking future at all kinds of shops.

In many European countries, legislation is being discussed that could cut plastic bag use by 80% by 2019 according to the Earth Policy Institute. There are the Canadian cities of Ontario and Quebec that have halved their plastic bag use. Even in the United Arab Emirates camels were choking on plastic bags, so communities are discussing regulation there. It is a change that is happening, but just at a slower rate than some would like.

Plastic bags have become a very hot topic in today’s society. Their future is not certain, but what is is that a majority of scientists and the public believe that they are doing the earth more harm than good. There are a lot of different options for bag use at the store, but it is up to the shoppers and consumers to decide which issues are most important to them so that they can decide what to use.


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