Long before I had a blog and long before I started down the path to using less plastic... I gave up using plastic bags. Here's the plain and simple truth: 60,000 plastic bags are used EVERY 5 seconds in the US. That's A LOT of plastic bags... and of all those plastic bags only a small percentage (between 3-5%) are even recycled. SO... where do the other 95-97% of plastic bags end up? .
The majority of plastic bags used either end up in a landfill or worse littered in our environment-- roadways, parks, trees, beaches and oceans. Because of plastic bags being so lightweight, there isn't a place that a plastic bag can't go. Over the past couple of years, I have taken the time to document (as much as possible) plastic bags that have been (for the most part) unintentionally littered in our world. I document their presence at the beach, I snap pictures of them in trees, and I even chase them down as they blow in the wind. I do this all to bring awareness to this huge problem because from my personal experience I know that once I'm aware of a problem... I can no longer look away and I look to find solutions to the problem.
I used to think recycling was the answer... or at least part of it. But, it's not. Recycling is NOT the answer. There are several things that we as individuals can do to begin to create change and begin to rid our world of the ubiquitous plastic bag.
1. Use reusable bags. Make the decision to never accept plastic bags. Forget your reusable bags? Get resourceful and rethink how to get your purchases out of the store without plastic bags. I've been known to use my shirt, pile items in my hands or even push a cart full of groceries to my car without bags. ;)
2. Document: See a littered plastic bag? Pick it up, document and share what you find!
3. Sign petitions to ban the bag in your area. Locally Cape Fear Surfrider has a petition for Ban the Bag New Hanover County. Please add your name to the petition here: Ban the Bag!
Want to get more involved in the local movement to ban the bag in NHC, contact Ethan: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Stretch your activist muscles and get involved in the Ban the Bag movement. Factory Direct Promos recently created an interactive global map that highlights plastic bag bans and legislation limiting their use. It's a great resource to see how other places have succeeded in implementing legislation-- whether bans or fees-- to limit the use of single-use plastic bags. No plastic bag legislation in your area? Do some research, connect to the community and start a petition!