Plastic Grocery Bags
Single use plastic shopping bags have been an environmental and wildlife disaster since their introduction. Worldwide over 1 TRILLION bags are consumed each year. They are a major cause for the death of an estimated 1 million animals and birds killed each year by plastic debris.
Most plastic bags are not recycled as it is not economical, its costs roughly $4,000 to process and recycle one ton of plastic bags, the resulting product can then be sold for only $32.
In addition to killing wildlife through entanglement or ingestion, the bags are also an environmental hazard, they do not biodegrade but rather photodegrade, meaning that over time they break down into small pieces, containing toxic petro-polymers and ending up in our drinking water and releasing these toxins into farmland.
Finally, because plastic bags are made from oil, reducing the use of them would reduce our dependency on foreign oil and the demand for arctic and offshore drilling.
- One of the easiest ways you personally can have a significant impact with little effort, use reusable canvas bags, do not use plastic bags
- When out hiking, or even walking around your own neighborhood, if you encounter a discarded plastic bag, pick it up, break the handles and dispose of properly
- Encourage your city, state or favorite grocery chain to ban single use plastic bags. You can find resources for this effort at plasticpollutioncoalition and bagtheban
Other Plastics - Six Pack Rings
As many are already aware, six pack rings pose a significant threat of entanglement to wildlife. The above wild peking duck had this six pack ring entangled around her neck and bill, preventing her from eating. Agents from U.S. Fish and Wildlife were able to catch the bird, cut away the ring, and release her.
To permanently prevent any chance of six pack rings causing death to wildlife they should always be cut apart before disposal, even if you are throwing them in your trash at home. Anytime you see these rings, please break all holes/loops on them before discarding.
Plastic drinking straws are consumed by a number of birds and turtles. A disturbing, widely viewed video of a turtle having a straw removed from its nose has fortunately sparked a movement calling for an end to plastic straws. You can view the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2J2qdOrW44
What You Can Do
If you use straws at home, purchase reusable, non-plastic straws like the silicone, steel or glass straws pictured below to use instead of plastic
purchase paper straws to keep with you, in a purse or in your vehicle, to use during those unplanned fast food stops
Take the paper straws with you into restaurants, tell your waitress not to give you a straw and ask to speak with the manager to request they switch to paper straws.