Plastic Bags

photo by Rusty Buggy Enterprises

One-time use plastic bags have been around for over 50 years. Introduced as a convenience for shoppers and as an alternative to using paper, to save trees, plastic bags have become a worldwide nuisance, littering the countryside, backing up drains and sewers and becoming a hazard to animals and marine life. They have become the major component of garbage floating in the ocean currents.1

Plastic Bag Fact Sheet

The Earth Policy Institute has provided a Plastic Bag Fact Sheet filled with facts you need to know in order to understand what is coming soon to communities near you.

  • Worldwide, a trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, nearly 2 million per minute.
  • The amount of energy required to make 12 plastic shopping bags could drive a car for a mile.
  • Currently 100 billion plastic bags pass through the hands of U.S. consumers every year – almost one bag per person each day. Laid end to end, they would circle the equator 1,330 times.
  • Livestock choking on plastic bags – from camels in the United Arab Emirates to sheep in Mauritania and cattle in India and Texas – have led communities to consider regulation.
  • City, state and national governments around the world are trying to limit plastic bag litter and waste with bans and fees.
  • Denmark was the first country to pass a plastic bag tax in 1993. Danes use very few light-weight plastic bags – about 4 per person each year.
  • At least 16 African countries have announced bans on certain types of plastic bags, to varying levels of effectiveness. Before a ban on thin bags, which tear easily and get caught by the wind, went into effect in 2003, plastic bags were christened South Africa’s “national flower” because of their prevalence in bushes and trees. Thicker bags are taxed.
  • Many European countries tax plastic bags or ban free distribution. The EU Parliament is discussing measures that would require member states to cut plastic bag use by 80% by 2019. A memo on the proposal noted “plastic bags have been found in stomachs of several endangered marine species,” including various turtles and porpoises, and 94% of North Sea birds.
  • The provinces of Ontario and Quebec have each halved their plastic bag use through a variety of measures, including store incentives for using reusable bags and retailer imposed fees.
  • The plastics industry has spent millions of dollars to challenge plastic bag ordinances.
  • Over 150 U.S. cities and counties ban or require fees for plastic bags. California passed the first statewide ban in 2014.
  • Washington, D.C., was the first U.S. city to require food and alcohol retailers to charge customers 5¢ for each plastic or paper bag. Proceeds are shared between stores and environmental clean-ups.
  • The Clean Air Council reports that less than 1% of plastic bags are recycled each year and the cost for recycling one ton costs $4,000 and the recycled product can be sold for only $32.2

Are you one of the 49 million Americans living in communities that have banned plastic bags?

Billie Nicholson, Editor
January 2015




Our January 2015 issue of “Every Needful Thing”  also includes:

The Motivation Factor

The Magic of the Side by Stephen D. Palmer

9 Simple Tips to Prevent Antibiotic Resistance by Gaye Levy

Gardening by the Moon

and from Our Solar Chef – Vegetarian Chickpea Curry Pie

Don’t miss our January Special on case lots of fuel disks for your Cube Stove


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