Starting to use reusable bags in place of disposable paper and plastic bags is one way that every one of us can do in our part to help our environment, cut back on waste and reduce consumption of natural resources and fossil fuels. While more common in other countries, the sad truth is that the majority of consumers in the United States still rely on paper or plastic bags for the majority of their shopping.
Maybe they need more motivation? Below, I've compiled a list of reasons that everyone should start using reusable bags. If you do some research, you will find various estimates about the number of plastic bags used each year worldwide. Generally, the bottom of the range is around 500 billion with the upper boundary of the range being around 1 trillion.
Approximately 380 billion plastic bags are consumed in the US each year. That's a lot of bags – unfortunately a lot of bags that aren't reused or recycled. Instead, most are thrown away in the garbage and work their way into our waste system and landfills or find their way into our waterways or countryside.
Reasons to use reusable bags instead of paper or plastic
1) Plastic bags take more than 1,000 years to decompose in landfills.
2) Plastic bags do not biodegrade in landfills. Instead, they photodegrade, which can release toxins into the soil and nearby water channel that can be digested by the animal, causing death.
3) Approximately 1% of plastic bags are recycled due to high costs. That leaves 99% to make their way to landfills or end up as litter.
4) Every square mile of ocean has an average of 46,000 pieces of plastic in it … and the number is growing.
5) Each reusable bag that you use could potentially reduce your use of plastic bags by 1,000 bags over the lifetime of the bag.
Using reusable shopping bags cuts down on the number of plastic bags that are used, disposed of, and available to kill animals, pollute the land, and/or harm our soil and water.