Single Use Plastic Grocery Bags
These are not jelly fish, but plastic grocery bags
(Picture from www,globalgarbage.org.br)
Discarded plastic grocery bags are everywhere – in the rivers, oceans, roadsides and in your backyards. These bags, also called T-shirt carry out bags, are great polluters. They are also inexpensive to manufacture. It costs about 2 to 5 cents each to buy. Brown paper grocery bags cost around 12 cents each to buy. So due to low cost of T-shirt bags, these bags are overused. T-shirt bags are made out of petrochemicals, which are not biodegradable and will last for up to 1000 years in the environment. These plastic bags could also be broken down into small pieces and become micro-plastics and enter the food chain. It is estimated that Americans throw away about 100 billion of the T-shirt bags annually.
T-shirt carry out bags are 100% recyclable. Unfortunately, about 12% of these bags are recycled. Manufacturing T-shirt carry out bags will emit less greenhouse gases. Some studies suggest that plastic bags take 40% less energy to manufacture and 80% less solid waste compared to recycled brown bags. These T-shirt carry out bags are very light weight and require less energy to transport and less room to store.
Large grocery chains have been making an effort to recycle these T-shirt carry out bags. Some states and local organizations are taking action to reduce the use of these T-shirt carry out bags. In 2014, California was the first state to pass a bill to ban T-shirt bags in large retail stores. The stores in California also charged a minimum of 10 cents for the use of recycled brown bags. In 2014, the city of Newburyport, MA banned the use of T-shirt grocery bags, which affected the retail stores. There are other organizations such as environmental groups and stores working to control the use of T-shirt carry out bags.
Many stores are selling their own reusable grocery bags for as little as 99 cents. In Massachusetts, there is a volunteer organization called The BagShare Project, where volunteers sew reusable grocery bags from donated materials. The main goal of this organization is help consumers not to use T-shirt carryout bags. If a customer forgets to bring a reusable bag, then he or she can borrow one and return the bag after using it.
There are many efforts going on to reduce the use of plastic T-shirt carry out bags. These carry out bags are 100% recyclable, but only 12% are recycled in the USA. As a result, we see the bags polluting our environment or even our backyards. Consumers should be educated to recycle their plastic bags. We should have more places to collect and recycle T-shirt bags. It takes much less energy to manufacture and transport these bags. I think, the best solution is BYOB - Bring Your Own Bags!