Plastic Bags: useful but hazardous

Topics: Plastic shopping bag, Bags, Bag Pages: 3 (1008 words) Published: March 20, 2014
Have you ever wondered where the term, “paper or plastic” came from? In 1977, Gordon Dancy revolutionized the consumer experience by inventing the plastic bag to replace the paper bag (Turner & Sutton, 2012). His intention was to save the trees that would need to be cut down to create paper bags; however in his quest for environmental preservation, he inadvertently created a worse evil. Plastic bags are everywhere; it is almost impossible to make a purchase today without receiving our items in a plastic bag, but how many of use save our plastic bags for reuse? Plastic bags are made from natural gas and petroleum (non-biodegradable materials); which means that they are a relatively permanent fixture on the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one trillion plastic bags are used per year globally; and of these, less than five percent is recycled. Every year thousands of marine animals and birds die from ingesting plastic bags or becoming entangled in them (Warner, 2010). These are horrendous statistics, especially when you consider the fact that plastic bags are an unnecessary invention. Plastic bags may be convenient and economical to use, but they also have far-reaching consequences on the environment and especially marine wildlife; and their use should be discontinued altogether in favour of equally affordable, sustainable and biodegradable alternatives. Plastic bags are a relatively permanent fixture on the environment, and through irresponsible disposal practices, they have wreaked enormous havoc on the planet’s natural balance. They are made from non-renewable resources and therefore do not biodegrade. As such, disposal has become an environmentalist’s nightmare- there simply isn’t enough space in the landfills for them (that is, providing they get to the landfills in the first place!); and only a fraction of them get recycled (Warner, 2010). Because of their lightweight nature, bags blow away easily. Plastic bags are an eyesore on...

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