One of the best parts of living in Fairfield is living near the water. The beaches along the Long Island Sound are enjoyable during every season of the year, especially summer, of course.
But in the last 3 – 5 years, I’ve seen an increase in the amount of trash that washes up on the shore, mainly plastic, a lot of it is some form of a plastic bag. According to data from the Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Cleanups, plastic bags are consistently in the top 10 pieces of trash collected on beaches around the world.
Did you know?
- Plastic bags are made from fossil fuels, and it requires 2.2 billion pounds of fossil fuel and 3.9 billion gallons of fresh water to produce the 100 billion plastic bags the US consumes each year (Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment). What a waste of natural resources!
- The extremely slow decomposition rate of plastic bags leaves them to drift on the ocean for untold years. According to the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, these plastic bags cause the death of many marine animals (fish, sea turtles, etc.), every year when animals mistake them for food.
- When plastics break down, they don’t biodegrade; they photodegrade. This means the materials break down to smaller fragments which readily soak up toxins. They then contaminate soil, waterways, and animals upon digestion (Earth911).
- 10% of the plastic produced every year worldwide winds up in the ocean. 70% of which finds its way to the ocean floor, where it will likely never degrade (United Nations).
What is the solution?
Way #7 Whenever possible, avoid single-use plastic bags by opting for recyclable or reusable bags.
Any financial incentive?
- Unfortunately, a year ago, ShopRite stopped offering a 5 cent per reusable bag incentive. Stop and Shop stopped doing this two years ago.
- Trader Joe’s offers a raffle ticket for a gift certificate each time you bring in your own bag.
- Whole Foods Market offers 10 cents per reusable bag, even mesh veggie bags.
- Target offers 5 cents per reusable bags.
- Consider the increasing costs to you as a consumer and taxpayer. Though plastic and paper bags are given out for free at check-out counters, U.S. retailers spend $4 billion per year on disposable bags, and that cost is passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. Once bags are consumed, they are also expensive to clean up and dispose of. For example, New York City spends $10 million disposing of plastic bags. (CCE)
How about these incentives?
Click here. The photos of sea birds and turtles are among my top incentives for avoiding single-use grocery bags.
Just as I had asked you to consider taking your reusable travel mug a few times a week, or even just one day a week, I ask you now to consider doing the same with a reusable grocery bag. Imagine the difference all of us making this effort would do.
As the UN Climate Conference goes into its last full day, I reflect on the reason I wrote this series of posts. I hope you will consider my Zero Waste message. Making one small change can lead to bigger changes to:
- decrease your carbon footprint
- decrease your exposure to harmful plastic
- increase your savings over time, health and otherwise
- start the process of getting hooked on striving for Zero Waste!
Stay tuned for more ways to strive for living Zero Waste!