Plastic bags are a major cause for concern. Americans come home with approximately 100 billion plastic shopping bags each year! Link. US businesses like to use plastic because they are durable and cheap. But they are hated by municipalities around the nation because they clog drains and are filling landfills.
“Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade—breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest.”
The chemicals that make up plastic take from 400 to 1,000 years to break down, and their constituent chemicals remain in the environment long after that. These plastic bags are made from crude oil, natural gas and other petrochemical derivatives. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil are used to make the bags the U.S. consumes each year. Some countries are fighting back from this scourge using some innovative ways. For example, Ireland now adds a small tax to each plastic bag a consumer uses – causing a 94% drop in plastic bag consumption in one year alone! Link.
If asked “paper or plastic,” what would your choice be?