I recently went back to Washington, DC where they’ve enacted Tommy Wells’ bag tax: a $.05 charge (five cents, a nickel) for each plastic bag. Treehugger reports that monthly usage of plastic bags has dropped from 22 million to just 3 million bags per month while generating $150,000 in clean-up funds for the Anacostia River. Yay DC!
Did You Know?
Plastic bags start as crude oil, natural gas, or other petrochemical derivatives, which are transformed into chains of hydrogen and carbon molecules known as polymers or polymer resin. After being heated, shaped, and cooled, the plastic is ready to be flattened, sealed, punched, or printed on.
Each year, Americans throw away some 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags. (Only 0.6 percent of plastic bags are recycled.) (Worldwatch Institute)
The Pocono Record has an Inconvenient Truth-style Powerpoint presentation about plastic bag usage that is way more interesting than it sounds.
One Person Can Make a Big Difference
Did you know that by using reusable bags each person can avoid using (on average)…
- 6 plastic bags per week?
- 24 plastic bags a month?
- 288 plastic bags a year?
- 22,176 plastic bags in an average life?
This is the statistic that I like: If just 1 out of 5 people in our country did this we would save 1,330,560,000,000 plastic bags over our lifetime? That’s a big number. I think it is pronounced One Trillion, Three Hundred Thirty Billion, Five Hundred Sixty Million plastic bags. I don’t have any way to comprehend how much that is.
Stepping back from plastic bag usage is probably the easiest, most affordable non-life changing way to cut back your dependence on some of that disgusting substance still spewing into the Gulf, destroying wildlife, and livelihoods.
New York Times: “Scientists warned Monday that oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico was moving rapidly toward a current that could carry it into the Florida Keys and the Atlantic Ocean, threatening coral reefs and hundreds of miles of additional shoreline.”
So if you’re going to the store, grab some bags to bring with you. Reuse those old plastic ones until you can’t anymore, invest in some cloth bags and proudly tell the cashier “I brought my own”. You can even get fashionable with a reusable bag in a way that you never can with a tacky plastic one. Check out etsy for some handmade works of art for carting around your groceries.