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500 Reasons to Recycle

     Under the logo of Bag Monster TM is the inscription: "1 year, 1 shopper, 500 bags". This is about 10 plastic shopping bags a week. 500 bags donít seem to amount too much until one weighs the economic, social and environmental costs of producing 1 plastic bag:

Plastic bags require the use of a lot of non-renewable resources. The Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment estimates that manufacturing plastic grocery bags require significant quantities of both energy and raw materials. Two plastic bags require 990 kJ (kilojoules) of natural gas, 240 kJ of petroleum, and 160 kJ of coal.

Plastic bags pollute the atmosphere. The manufacturing of two plastic bags produces 1.1 kg of atmospheric pollution in the form of acid rain and smog. Thus, if one million shoppers decreased their annual plastic bag consumption by 50 per cent, nearly 15,100 tons of carbon monoxide emissions would be saved yearly.

Plastic bags kill marine life. In this century, an estimated 46,000 pieces of plastic are floating in every square kilometer of ocean worldwide. As a result, more than 200 species of marine life such as whales, dolphins, and turtles experience substantial kills every year due to plastic bags. The death toll amounts to millions yearly. In Newfoundland alone, more than 100,000 marine creatures die yearly. These marine animals mistakenly ingest the bags as food only to die from suffocation and drowning. Worse, the ingested plastic bag remains intact even after the decomposition of the marine creature, lying around waiting for its next victim.

Plastic bags spread disease. The National Center for Infectious Diseases, the Environmental Literacy Council, and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency blame plastic bags for the rise in mosquito-borne diseases worldwide. By clogging sewer pipes, plastic bags create stagnant water which is the ideal habitat for mosquitoes and other parasites capable of spreading encephalitis, dengue fever and malaria.

Plastic bags are non-biodegradable but are photodegradable. Plastic bags take about 1000 years to decompose. Worse, plastic bags photodegrade: over time it breaks down into its toxic hydrocarbon polymers eventually contaminating the food chain as the poisonous polymers leach into soil and water.

Plastic bags kill. In 2005, the city of Mumbai in India experienced massive flooding from monsoon rains causing over 1,000 deaths. The city officials blamed destructive floods on the plastic bags that had clogged gutters and storm drains of the city, hampering rainwater from flowing out of the city. Similar flooding happened in 1988 and 1998 in Bangladesh, which prompted it to ban plastic bags in 2002.

Plastic bags are difficult and costly to recycle. Although plastic bags can be recycled, they are most commonly thrown into the garbage bin once they are no longer useful since recycling of plastic is costly. First, plastic bags are made from many different resins. Because they cannot be mixed, they must be sorted and processed separately. Such labour-intensive processing is expensive in developed economies. Second, most plastics contain stabilizers and other chemicals that must be removed before recycling. Third, the recovery of individual plastic resins has not yielded much materials, since only little amounts of any given resin are used per product. In short, recycling is not a simple solution to lessen its negative ecological impact.

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Whatís the whole point of all these statistics? Reuse all your plastic whether it be plastic bags for shopping, containers, boxes, pouches, coffee bags, bottles, sandwich bags, ice bags. Better still, minimize your consumption and save your own life.

Posted on 2009-10-25, By: *

* Click on the author's name to view their profile and articles!!!

Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author,

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