The Fight Over Plastic Bags…Where Do We Go From Here?
The Fight Over Plastic Bags Continues
Whether you love them or hate them or even if you don’t really have a strong opinion on them, single-use plastic bags are a ubiquitous part of modern life. New York magazine recently published a great piece that succinctly outlines the plight of the plastic bag from humble beginnings to social stigma. The reach and impact of plastic bags extends so much further than just carrying goods home from the store, and these results are pushing a lot of people to take action.
The Good Traits Give Way to the Not So Good Traits
Single-use plastic bags were introduced with the best of intentions. They are durable and lightweight, making them ideal to carry goods home from the store. They are compact and inexpensive, which make them appealing to retailers. After being introduced in the 1950’s, disposable plastic bags have quickly become such a common part of everyday life that on average, each person in the U.S. uses hundreds of bags a year.
All of the useful traits of disposable plastic bags have negative counters. That lightweight construction that makes these bags easy to carry means it is easy for wind to lift them from a trash can or recycling bin and carry them off. When this happens disposable plastic bags can become stuck in trees or other plants, or deposited in bodies of water. Once this happens these plastic nuisances are major health risks to animals who mistake them for food.
It is also unfortunately all too common for littered disposable plastic bags to become lodged in storm drains and other drainage systems. This may not seem like a big deal, until there is a storm and the excess water has no place to go. The resulting floods can cause a lot of damage, so to counter this problem many municipalities spend resources in the way of time and money to clean up the plastic litter.
Where Do We Go From Here?
A lot of people feel things have gotten to the point where the drawbacks just outweigh the advantages. This conclusion has spurred action across the country, and even the world. Several countries have banned disposable plastic bags and seen positive results. Many cities in the U.S. have taken action and either implemented disposable bag bans or fees, with even more cities proposing similar measures. Bag bans are effective because they eliminate all of the problems at the source. No plastic bags mean no litter and no environmental harm. If you want to get a visual of the bag ban movement check out our interactive map. You can see how the movement takes hold, inspires and grows. The map is a resource that educates and informs and illustrates the spread of the bag ban movement.