If you were given a product that would help make your life easier for just 12 minutes but would have a negative impact on the planet for up to 1000 years, would you use it?
The average use-life of a plastic bag is precisely that. 12 minutes. And yes, it takes up to 1000 years to break down. Plastic bags are toxic to the environment even after they break down because they do not biodegrade, they photo-degrade. This means that after it degrades, it breaks down into smaller and smaller toxic bits of itself – and bleeds and contaminates the environment. But this does not stop us. According to The World Counts, we use 5 trillion plastic bags per year, with each one of us personally accountable for over 700 of these. If we multiply our individual use by the minutes of use, in total, we will use these bags for 5.8 days out of each year. Still, they will remain on earth not just for our lifetime, but for our children’s lifetime, and our grandchildren’s lifetime, and our great grandchildren’s, and their great grandchildren’s, and their great grandchildren’s, and, well, you get the idea. The plastic bag that helped you just a little earlier today will pollute the earth, and it will pollute our oceans, and most likely will never leave.
Every plastic bag ever produced is still on this planet. It is either landfilled, broken down into micro pieces in the environment, being reused, and a small percentage has been recycled back into plastic. Until now, with the introduction of innovative “end-of-life” upcycling solutions, there was no “away” when we threw out our plastic bags.
So, what is being done? More and more countries are banning or regulating the use of plastic bags in supermarkets and retail stores. Retailers have started charging for bags and no longer automatically dispense them. This has had fantastic results with many customers (you and me) bringing their own reusable bags. This has drastically reduced usage worldwide. And this means fewer animals will die. Fewer bags will be produced. Less petroleum will be used.
The result of this small sacrifice on our part is a better and healthier environment for everyone.
Another solution, as mentioned, is a unique chemical recycling technology, Clariter, which is able to upcycle plastic bags into crude-oil alternative industrial products which are used as ingredients to make over 1000 clean everyday products.
So, the next time you are offered this cheap and handy and readily available product that will make your life easier for a few minutes ask yourself if it is really worth the negative impact to our environment? While we do not foresee a total ban on plastic bags, we can each take responsibility to use less. Let us start helping our environment, and the animals that are affected by being mindful of how we use plastic bags.
This is an opinion article written by Clariter. Inspired by: The World Counts