How Do Single Use Plastic Bags Harm the Environment?

Discarded litter single use plastic bag sitting in green grass

Wondering How Single-Use Plastic Bags Harm the Environment? Here’s Your Easy Answer

There is certainly a convenience factor to disposable plastic bags, but these flimsy bags are also responsible for a lot of environmental harm, partly because the lightweight construction that makes them easy to carry also allows these bags to function like a sail and be carried off by the wind. When single-use plastic bags are deposited in the trash or put in a recycling bin a strong gust of wind can carry them away. Ultimately, any ease disposable plastic bags offer is quickly overshadowed by the environmental harm they cause.

Single-Use Plastic Bags Are Potentially the First Step in a Deadly Chain of Events

Ingestion and entanglement are the main dangers that face wildlife when disposable plastic bags become litter. When an animal mistakenly eats plastic litter the trash can become tangled and lodged in its digestive system, this can prevent their bodies from absorbing nutrients and lead to malnutrition, it can give the animal a false sense of being full while they starve or it can lead to infections and internal injuries – all of these issues can lead to death.

Animals can also become tangled in single-use plastic bags and be unable to fend for themselves or their young. When an animal dies with plastic bag trash either stuck on their body or inside their digestive tract, it is possible another animal eating the carcass could ingest the plastic and start the process all over. Plastic bags can also suffocate plants by blocking sunlight and preventing photosynthesis from taking place. Plants play a vital role in the environment – they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and they sustain a wide array of animals.

Impact of Plastic Bag Litter Can Be Far Reaching

A careful balance is required to maintain a healthy environment, and when man-made litter such as disposable plastic bags interferes with nature, the ramifications can be intense and dangerous. For instance, if plastic bag litter destroys a coral reef all of the plants and animals that called that reef home now have no place to grow or conceal themselves from predators, and eventually the animals that hunted at the reef will have lost their food source. The animals that survive may move to other areas in search of food and shelter, but they could overburden nearby habitats and this could lead to additional ecosystem collapses. When animals, their habitats, and their food sources are incapacitated or killed this can alter entire ecosystems.

Disposable Plastic Bags Play a Role in Global Warming

Disposable plastic bags are made from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource, and greenhouse gases are emitted during the production progress. Essentially, greenhouse gases heat the atmosphere which is necessary to keep the planet warm and sustain life, but when there is an abundance of greenhouse gases that causes the temperatures to increase further and this can cause climate change. Temperatures swings can impact animals’ habitats and migration patterns, as well as growing cycles which can interfere with plants and the food supply, increased temperatures are behind higher water levels and greater occurrences of wildfires.

Litter From Single-Use Plastic Bags Cause Flooding

When single-use plastic bags are carried away by the wind, they may clog the drains and this causes flooding. As a result of severe single-use plastic bag litter, people have lost their lives. In fact, Bangladesh became the first country to ban plastic bags after discovering that they were the main cause of devastating floods in 1988 and 1998. The bags had blocked drains and as a result two-thirds of the country was submerged under water. In 2002, all plastic shopping bags were banned.

Single Use Plastic Bags are Just Not Worth the Trouble

Disposable plastic bags play a role in so many severe problems and many locations across the globe are banning them as you can see on our Bag Ban Map. By damaging one animal or plant species plastic bags can start a chain reaction and other plants and animals will feel that impact and eventually that harm will extend to still other plants and animals. If left unchecked disposable plastic bag litter can cause entire species to go extinct and leave a much more lasting scar on the environment.

There is an easy answer and one that both businesses and consumers can take part in…businesses and consumers can make a vow to begin offering and using reusable bags. Have you made the switch?




4 thoughts on “How Do Single Use Plastic Bags Harm the Environment?

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