Plastic Bags and Climate Change

Plastic Bags and climate change are linked in a variety of ways. From air quality to ocean toxicity, plastic bags contribute to eco-system disruption.

Habitat destruction, fossil fuel emissions, and plastic pollution are some of the ways that plastic bags and climate change cannot be separated. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil are used to manufacture the 30 million plastic bags that Americans use each year. That is equivalent to the amount of oil in our Strategic Oil Reserve. When used for bags, it is a wasteful and unnecessary way to deplete our oil supply and contribute to CO2 build-up in our atmosphere.

But the build up of plastic in our oceans is a greater cause of eco-system disruption. An estimated 100,000 marine animals die each year from suffocating on or ingesting bags. Even that number this seems small when you consider the impact of littered bags that break up into small pieces and wash into our waterways. These small pieces of plastic are accumulating at an alarming rate in our oceans.

All this plastic is toxic and may be affecting our food supply. One of the main toxins is dioxin, an endocrine disruptor, or so-called gender-bender pollutant. Sea Bass and other fish with intersex characteristics have been found int he Potomac River and other areas. Increased levels of man-made pollutants are showing up in remote areas like the arctic, affecting polar bears and other arctic mammals and further adding to the stress of adapting to new climate realities and habitat changes. We really should wonder how these pollutants are affecting us!

Many people responsibly dispose of their bags, but even when disposed of properly, they can pose a threat. Dioxin and other toxins can leach out of landfills, further contaminating waterways and oceans.

If you think you have thrown bag away, remember: there is no away! Every bag you have ever thrown away is stored in landfill somewhere.

So please, don’t throw away bags. The best thing to do would be to use reusable grocery bags and help stop the destruction of our eco-systems. Get bags for your business or community group and help reduce bag waste now.