Facts | Articles
Plastic Bags Are Causing MUCH More Damage Than Most Of Us Know
- Mom's control over 80% of household spending (and there are 75 million moms in the USA!)
- According to Time Magazine, the average family of four in the US uses 28 plastic bags per week, or 1,460 bags per year.
- Four out of five grocery bags in the U.S. are now plastic. As a society, we currently consume plastic bags at the rate of almost 1 million per minute.
- The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store. Plastic bags do not decompose.
- According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags.
- According to David Barnes, a marine scientist with the British Antarctic Survey who studies the impact of marine debris - plastic bags are being found, as litter, in virtually every corner of the planet.
- Plastic bags hurt sea animals. 7% of plastic bags don't make it to landfills, which are quickly filling up anyway, and end up polluting our environment. This is causing an estimated 100,000 deaths for sea turtles and other marine animals that mistake the bags for food.
- Most plastic bags end up in landfill sites. They don't biodegrade, they slowly photo-degrade breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them.
- Single-use bags made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are the main culprit. Once brought into existence to tote your purchases, they'll accumulate and persist on our planet for up to 1,000 years.
- Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups.
- Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.
- Windblown plastic bags are so prevalent in Africa that a cottage industry has sprung up harvesting bags and using them to weave hats, and even bags. According to the BBC, one group harvests 30,000 per month.
Where is progress being made?
- In the Spring of 2007, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban non- biodegradable plastic bags from large grocery stores and pharmacies. Similar legislation is being debated in several others cities. How? Don't use them!
- In 2001, Ireland consumed 1.2 billion plastic bags, or 316 per person. An extremely successful plastic bag consumption tax, or PlasTax, introduced in 2002 reduced consumption by 90%.
That's 1,460 bags less that will:
- Waste energy during manufacturing.
- Remain in landfills and release toxins into the ground water.
- Kill any of the estimated 100,000 marine animals that die each year of plastic pollution
Whole Foods phases out plastic bags Moms Better Recyclers Than College Kids
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: January 22, 2008
Whole Foods Market is shelving plastic checkout bags. The Austin, Texas-based natural foods chain announced Tuesday that it plans to eliminate the bags from its 270 stores within three months, by Earth Day. Stores will use up existing supplies, but they won't order any more. Instead, the chain will ask customers to bring reusable shopping bags or offer them paper bags.
Scientific American: January 14, 2008
Maybe it's just easier because they're putting it out on the curb rather than finding on-campus recycling centers, but moms are more earth-friendly than their kids at college. Karen Hopkin reports. Attention Chinese shoppers: No more free plastic bags
Associated Press: January 9, 2008
China is banning free plastic shopping bags. The measure eliminates the flimsiest bags and forces stores to charge for others, making China the latest nation to target plastic bags in a bid to cut waste and conserve resources. Beijing residents appeared to take the ban in stride, reflecting rising environmental consciousness and concern over skyrocketing oil prices. New Year's Resolution: Going Green in 2008
USA Today December 18th, 2007
A recent survey indicated that almost half of Americans (49%) intend on going green in 2008. Of those with green aspirations, 42% plan on using reusable bags at the supermarket.
CNN Video on Plastic Garbage Island
Eric Lanford talks with Thomas Morton about island-sized piles of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean.
April 14, 2008
Study of Chemical in Plastic Bottles Raises Alarm
By Deborah Kotz in US News & World Report
Posted April 16, 2008
Bisphenol A (BPA), a compound in hard, clear polycarbonate plastics, is getting official scrutiny and things are looking less than rosy for the controversial chemical. The U.S. government's National Toxicology Program yesterday agreed with a scientific panel that recently expressed concern about physiological changes that occur in people when they ingest BPA that has leached from plastics into their food. The Canadian government is even considering declaring the chemical toxic, reports today's New York Times. This could set the stage for banning it from plastic baby bottles, water bottles, and food containers. At the very least, some people will be even more eager to buy foods and beverages in BPA-free containers.
BPA has raised concerns because it appears to mimic the effects of estrogen, interfering with hormone levels and cell signaling systems. Previous studies have shown that people exposed to high levels of BPA have a greater risk of developing uterine fibroids, breast cancer, decreased sperm counts, and prostate cancer. Babies and children are thought to be at greatest risk from the exposure. In fact, the scientific evidence warrants "a higher level of concern than those expressed by the expert [scientific] panel for possible effects of bisphenol A on prostate gland, mammary gland and early onset of puberty in exposed fetuses, infants and children," the NTP report concludes.
The Problem With Plastic
The chemical BPA is especially bad for babies
By Deborah Kotz in US News and World Report
Posted September 22, 2007
During the first few years of life, when babies' cells continue to undergo "programming," exposure to certain toxic chemicals can disrupt the delicate process. Bisphenol A, a compound in hard, clear polycarbonate plastics that mimics the effects of estrogen, has raised particular concern because it interferes with hormone levels and cell signaling systems. In August, several dozen scientists issued a review of 700 studies on BPA warning that the levels most people are exposed to put them at elevated risk of uterine fibroids, endometriosis, breast cancer, decreased sperm counts, and prostate cancer. Infants, the report said, are most vulnerable to BPA.
"Plastic bottles and plates that are boiled or put in the microwave or dishwasher are especially problematic because heating them repeatedly causes high amounts of BPA to leach out," says RethaNewbold, a developmental and reproductive biologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Triangle Park, N.C. Once small cracks form in the surface, a product should be discarded. She recommends that parents, to be on the safe side, switch to glass bottles or those with disposable plastic liners that don't contain BPA. And they should use microwave-safe paper plates or glass dishes covered with a paper towel rather than plastic wrap. Some manufacturers, like BornFree, have begun to offer plastic bottles and training cups that are BPA free.
Nalgene to phase out hard-plastic bottles
Containers made with bisphenolA chemical linked to health risks
The Associated Press
updated 11:11 a.m. ET, Fri., April. 18, 2008
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Hard-plastic Nalgene water bottles made with bisphenolA will be pulled from stores over the next few months because of growing consumer concern over whether the chemical poses a health risk.
NalgeNunc International, a division of Waltham, Mass.-based Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., said Friday it will substitute its Nalgene Outdoor line of polycarbonate plastic containers with BPA-free alternatives.
By eliminating containers containing BPA from our consumer product mix, our customers can have confidence that their needs are being met, Steven Silverman, general manager of the Nalgene business, said in a statement.
With more than 6 million pounds produced in the United States each year, bisphenol A is found in dental sealants, baby bottles, the liners of food cans, CDs and DVDs, eyeglasses and hundreds of household goods. The chemical has been linked to neurological and behavioral problems in infants and babies, along with certain cancers, diabetes and obesity.
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