Our coalition invites you to plug-in and join us in our modest effort to chip away at the overuse of some superfluous and ubiquitous objects infiltrating our daily lives: disposable grocery bags. EcoPods, E.C.O. at LSU, and the Baton Rouge Progressive Network have been working to research and then disseminate information to the public about the use of disposable grocery bags. Instead of using these bags, whether paper or plastic, we can very easily bring our own reusable cloth bags to use. By now, each of us probably has several reusable grocery bags at home. We should put them by the front door or in our bicycle basket or backseat. We should either use them all the time or ask that the clerk not place our purchases in a bag at all except in rare circumstances.
Many large, sturdy cloth totes and an excellent selection of smaller, lightweight cloth bags with drawstring tops for produce, grains, and bulk items are available at www.ecobags.com and www.reusablebags.com. Please do your part in Baton Rouge, by saying “No” to the disposable plastic or paper bag whenever you possibly can. Bags aren’t necessary for alcohol purchases. Vote with your dollars and decisions at the cash register every single day you can! Please download our “bag reduction” opinion letter to carry with you and share our press release far and wide. 1 Salon magazine: www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/08/10/plastic_bags/ 2 Sierra Club: www.sierraclub.org/sustainable_consumption/articles/bags2.asp 3 Salon magazine: www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/08/10/plastic_bags/
- According to the American Forest and Paper Association, in 1999 the U.S. alone used 10 billion paper grocery bags.
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. Of those, approximately 100 billion are discarded plastic shopping bags, which cost retailers about $4 billion annually. It's equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.1
- The plastic bag is an icon of convenience culture, by some estimates the single most ubiquitous consumer item on Earth, numbering in the trillions.
- Plastic bags that get buried in landfills may take up to 1,000 years to break down, and in the process they separate into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate soil and water.
- Plastic bags aren’t biodegradable. They actually go through a process called photodegradation—breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate both soil and water, and end up entering the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them.
- Plastic in the marine environment never fully degrades. The end product of the break down, "plastic dust," is ingested by filter feeding marine animals. The dust and the bio-toxins, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that the plastic dust accumulates, are passed up the food chain to fish and humans.2
- Hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine mammals die every year after eating discarded plastic bags they mistake for food.
- In the Northern Pacific Gyre, a great vortex of ocean currents, there's now a swirling mass of plastic trash about 1,000 miles off the coast of California, which spans an area that's twice the size of Texas, including fragments of plastic bags. There's six times as much plastic as biomass, including plankton and jellyfish, in the gyre.3
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