Could it be time to bag the bag? This eye-opening infographic by Arte Ideas shows the high toll plastic bags are taking on our planet.
Alarmed by the impact? You should be. Gyres of plastic debris grow ever larger in our oceans, releasing toxins into the water and harming marine life. On land, livestock including cattle, sheep and even camels are choking and dying after ingesting plastic bags they mistake for food.
The problem is huge, but together we can make a difference.
Here’s a quick update on progress made since 2012.
|July 2012||Seattle’s plastic bag ban takes effect.|
|March 2013||A bag ban takes effect in Austin, Texas.|
|September-October 2013||More than a million plastic bags were picked up from coasts and waterways around the world during the Ocean Conservancy’s 2013 Coastal Cleanup event.|
|January 2014||Los Angeles becomes the largest U.S. city to ban plastic bags. Dallas and Chicago follow suit in 2015.|
|April 2014||Members of the European Parliament back new rules requiring member countries to cut plastic bag use 50% by 2017 and 80% by 2019.|
|April 2014||Chicago city council approves plastic bag ban.|
|September 2014||California becomes the first state to pass a plastic bag ban, bringing the total U.S. population covered by anti-plastic bag legislation to over 49 million. More than 150 U.S. cities and counties have enacted plastic bag bans or fees. [NOTE: The California referendum is currently on hold, pending a final decision by voters in November 2016.]|
|June 2015||The state of Hawaii bans the distribution of plastic bags by grocery stores; however a loophole may be making the plastic problem even worse.|
In addition, some countries have either banned plastic bags altogether, or imposed a charge or tax on them.
And The Washed Ashore Project has processed more than 18 tons of ocean debris into 65 touring educational art sculptures to help create awareness about marine debris and plastic pollution.
By choosing reusable bags for groceries and other items, we can all help keep plastic bags from entering the environment in the first place. Each high-quality reusable bag you choose to use (and reuse) could potentially eliminate nearly 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. Every small, conscious choice helps!
Earth Policy Institute: Plastic Bag Bans or Fees Cover 49 Million Americans
Earth Policy Institute: Plastic Bags Fact Sheet – [PDF]
Care 2: 6 Tragic Tales of Animals Who Died After Swallowing Plastic
Huffington Post: Hawaii Just Became The First State To Ban Plastic Bags At Grocery Checkouts
Huffington Post: Loophole Undermines Hawaii’s Historic Plastic Bag Ban
Big Fat Bags: Bag Charges, Taxes and Bans by country