Today is International Plastic Bag Free Day and is an annual observance held on the 3rd of July.
International Plastic Bag Free Day Created by Bag Free World, a “global initiative that aims to eliminate the use of single-use plastic bags,” International Bag Free Day is an unofficial holiday that promotes environmental conservation by encouraging people to reject plastic bags. The holiday also raises awareness of the harm that plastic bags do to nature and to animals and marine life. Furthermore, it is about making society aware of the over-consumption of plastic bags as well as disposable products, working towards developing more responsible and more environmentally friendly habits. It promotes environmental conservation as it encourages people to reject plastic bags.
The International Plastic Bag Free Day is a unique opportunity to spread the word that a plastic bag free world is possible and that sound environmental alternatives to single use plastic bags are available
Facts about plastic
It takes between 100 and 500 years for a plastic bag to disintegrate
Most plastic bags are used for no more than 25 minutes
Every year 1 Trillion Plastic bags are consumed worldwide
The vast majority of disposable plastic bags are made of crude oil. This is a limited resource that has many more important uses
The United States uses about 380 billion disposable plastic bags each year. Only about 1% of these get recycled
80% of marine litter is plastic
Environmental damage caused by plastic bags
Death of animals
Animals suffer harm at the hands of plastic bags in a number of ways. Plastic bags kill about 100,000 animals annually. Many animals, including whales, dolphins, turtles, penguins, and dolphins, ingest plastic bags as they mistake them food.
For example, sea turtles mistake floating plastic shopping bags for jellyfish. These sea turtles risk extinction partly because of consuming excessive amounts of plastics. Plastic cannot be digested properly and hence will accumulate in the stomach leading to the animal’s death.
Even worse, the ingested plastics will remain intact even after the dead animal decomposes. That means another animal may ingest it and eventually suffer the same consequences.
We are all affected by plastic bags litter no matter where we live. When plastic bags are thrown on land it makes soil less fertile. Plastic buried in soil can release a toxic chemical which mixes into the ground making it harmful for agriculture and human use. Sometimes plastic such as polythene bags, get buried under the soil, this makes the soil toxic.
Water conservation is already a concern in some places, but the world’s water is in great danger because of leaking plastics and waste. If you’ve ever seen a garbage dump, imagine what happens every time it rains – then imagine that being in your drinking water. Groundwater and reservoirs are susceptible to leaking environmental toxins.
Plastic bags take years to decompose
Plastic bags can last for long periods of time in landfill sites. In the UK, some 16,000 tonnes of waste is sent to landfill each year – where the plastic bags can take 1,000 years to decompose.
Toxic chemicals leach out of plastic and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.
Burning of plastic in the open air, leads to environmental pollution due to the release of poisonous chemicals. The polluted air when inhaled by humans and animals affect their health and can cause respiratory problems.
Ways to reduce the waste of plastic bags
Don’t use disposable plastics
Wherever you live, the easiest and most direct way that you can get started is by reducing your own use of single-use plastics. About ninety percent of the plastic products used every day are used once and then thrown: plastic wrap, grocery bags, straws, disposable cutlery, and coffee-cup lids among others. Consider how you often depend on these items and change to reusable versions.
This is the most obvious and easiest way to eliminate the use of plastic in the future. Interestingly, nations like Kenya and France are phasing out single-use plastic bag by banning its products. Infractions with these products are heavily penalized and could send you to jail.
Avoid using bottled water
People are advised to drink a lot of water, at least 8-ounce glasses every day. Many who stay outdoors throughout the day keep themselves hydrated using plastic water bottles, which are thrown to trash after use.
For that reason, you are encouraged to carry a reusable bottle with you, get a model with a built-in filter for your safety. Alternatively, turn to companies that are selling reusable water bottles to minimizing plastic waste and bottles vulnerable to leakage.
Plastic bags were once a modern convenience but can be efficiently replaced by reusable bags, many of which fold up compactly in order to be portable. Just think about how many bags you typically carry out of a grocery store, and multiply that by the number of times you grocery shop. That’s a lot of plastic! Carry a bag and always reuse plastic bags as much as possible if you have them.
One of the things all of us can do to protect and improve our environment is: recycling. Try and select items that come in non-plastic recycled and recyclable packaging, to do your best to properly handle items that can’t be reused. Check everything before you put it in the trash, as more and more items are able to be recycled these days.
Remember that because plastic doesn’t break down easily, recycling plastic means that it is still plastic, just being used for a different purpose. Therefore, you’re not actually reducing plastic amounts or exposure, even in the recycling process.