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Let's End The Destruction Caused By Plastic Bags

Updated on January 22, 2012
Plastic bags pollute our oceans
Plastic bags pollute our oceans

Your Actions Count

Frankly, I'm tired of being the odd one out. I have too often found myself in a line at a grocery store and everyone in front of me and behind me takes plastic bags to carry their items to the car or home, even if they've only got a few items. What's worse is when the cashier keeps questioning my choice to refuse a bag. Even when I have to carry items in my real two arms, it seems to be unbelievable to some that I wouldn't want a plastic bag to help me out.

Everyone knows it's better for the environment to use your own reusable bags. Paper bags come from cutting down our declining forests, causing habitat loss for countless animals and diverse plants and wildlife. Plastic bags never degrade and end up in the garbage, where they eventually end up in the oceans wreaking havoc on the sea life there.

The solution is to stop choosing either. There are plenty of sources of lightweight, reusable bags that you can find pretty much anywhere for a few bucks, and you can even make your own out of T-shirts.

It's not even a catch-22 ~ you're not stuck with either plastic (never breaks down, pollutes oceans) or paper (wastes our precious forests). Just use a bit of foresight and have a bag ready with you, or at least in your car or in your bike bag. Get the most lightweight ones you can find if it's going to be a problem lugging them around. Just refuse to contribute to the problem.

One of the stores in town has begun charging customers for their biodegradable plastic bags because of a ban on plastic bags for large chains in San Francisco, where I live. It has not been a problem with their customers, who either pay the small fee or bring their own bags. The customers are regulars and have easily changed their habits. It's not hard, and it makes sense to them. However, it's still an exception to see a customer refuse the plastic bag outside of the city, particularly in large grocery stores.

If you think for a moment you can understand the countless waste and destruction that is going on regarding this issue and our planet. If you buy one large item in a store, you'll get one huge bag to lug it home with. How necessary is that bag? Most people use the bag to lug the item to their car; if the bag is heavy or the object bulky ~ the bag often tears en route; and so often the bag gets thrown right away at home, or possibly used once or twice more before being thrown away. It's simply ridiculous. That simply is not recycling.

Even if the plastic bag gets a few more cycles or use, it still can break or stretch, but it doesn't biodegrade and it ends up in the landfill and more likely, in our oceans.

Oceans should not be a dumping ground for garbage.

The problem is not just in grocery stores. Don't feel just because you're shopping in a retail environment that everyone will feel you're a thief if you walk out of there with your receipt and an item either in your own reusable bag or (God forbid) in your bare hands.

If you're affected by the pollution in the oceans, streets, and in nature from excess garbage and plastic bags that never biodegrade, it's time you stood up for your feelings and true beliefs. Obviously the more you can do to compost and recycle, buy items with less packaging, and buy in bulk, the less garbage you will be generating. While the problem is huge, it won't start getting better until people change their behavior ~ because trust me on this, the register clerk is still going to ask if you want a never biodegrading or forest-destroying bag to go with your purchase. Eschewing plastic bags and paper bags is a great step you can take to help fight this huge cycle of pollution.

Please stop contributing to the problem. While you might think one little bag won't hurt a thing the truth is everyone's actions matter. When enough people stand up for what they believe in, things start changing. That's how all social change has happened in the world. Individuals stood up for their rights and now women and blacks can vote. It's time to stand up for the rights of animals and sea life in the ocean, and to stand up for Mother Earth in general.

A quick search on facebook yields some depressing results. Try to find a large group of people who are pledging to never use plastic bags. It's time to change that. The "I pledge to stop using plastic bags" groups will only get bigger, and the impact of their actions will only be heard and felt on a larger scale when individual people just like you start doing the right thing.

And it'll be a lot less lonely at the register for me.

Learn More and Take Action

Comments: "Let's End the Destruction Caused by Plastic Bags"

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    • profile image

      Sanxuary 3 years ago

      Its a lot more then plastic bags. The amount of plastic we use is unbelievable and I am quite certain it is as great as plastic bags.

    • carozy profile image

      carozy 6 years ago from San Francisco

      That is sad to hear, but hopefully your students have grown up to be less wasteful!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is one of those actions that is so incredibly easy and yet nobody does it. I have been teaching this in class for years and believe it or not I have gotten letters from parents asking me not to turn their children against them and not to fill their kids' heads with worthless information. I'm not sure what to say to that kind of response but to your hub I say thumbs up and carry on the fight.

    • profile image

      priya 6 years ago

      its really helpful.thanks a lot.

    • carozy profile image

      carozy 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Colorado is beginning to take action against the plastic bag. Learn more: