In the United States and throughout much of the world, we take the ubiquitous plastic bag for granted. Each and every retail purchase we make is usual deposited in a plastic bag which we carry home and typically discard. Although we don't think about it, these bags make an enormous impact on life on earth. Here are a few eye-opening facts:
*4 to 5 trillion plastic bags are manufactured world-wide each year
*Approximately 100 billion are of these bags are plastic shopping bags used in the U.S.
*12 million barrels of oil is required to make those plastic bags
*Only 1-2% of bags are recycled in the U.S.
*Retailers in the U.S. spend about $4 billion annually on plastic bags
*Plastic bags do not biodegrade; they break down into smaller and smaller pieces and are eventually ingested by animals in the food chain
*Over 1 billion seabirds and mammals and approximately 100,000 sea turtles and other marine animals die as a result of ingesting plastic bags; bottom-feeding sea life is affected when plastic bags sink to the bottom of bodies of water, preventing accesss to food.
*About 1,000 miles off the Coast of California is a place called the North Pacific Gyre. Within this spot is a mass called the Garbage Patch. It is twice the size of Texas and as deep as 300 feet. This patch is composed almost entirely of plastic, an estimated 3.5 million tons of plastic.
These facts make my head spin. And it makes me more determined than ever to answer the question, "Paper or plastic," with "No thanks, I brought my own."