Plastic Bags Are Forever
As I go into this diatribe about plastic bags, I will first boldly state that I am shamefully guilty. We are all coconspirators of stuffing the oceans full of plastic grocery sacks. We all use or have used them. I’m trying not to use them anymore, and carry my own bags in my car whenever I go to the store, but usually they stay in the car as my mind is so full of illogical debris, I incorporate with the garbage that is covering our world. But, with this being said, I do recycle them in some disastrous and shameful attempt to soften, or heal my shameful plastic bag consumption.
Because of our discard and throwaway society, experts, and yes there are plastic bag experts, estimate there are five trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world’s oceans. This figure does not seem to include the bags that are not floating, the ones that have sunk to the depths of King Neptune’s Kingdom, turning his pristine domain into a polluted slum with WalMart bags gently waving in the current.
Approximately 100 billion plastic bags are thrown away in the U.S. every year, which is supposedly the equivalent of dumping almost 12 million barrels of oil into the environment. Globally, an estimated 1 trillion plastic bags have been used, with the average “use-time” for a bag is 12 minutes, but because plastic doesn’t decompose, it only breaks into smaller more deadly pieces after the 12 minutes of use; plastic bags continue to haunt and destroy indefinitely.
We do not have to wait for generations to see what plastic bags are doing to the environment. Slowly and painfully, plastic bags are killing marine life and more. Annually, tens of thousands of seals, whales, birds and turtles die because of the plastic bags in the ocean. Lots of animals, including sea turtles, mistake the plastic bags for food because they resemble jellyfish.
One study found that one out of three leatherback sea turtles have plastic bags or other forms of plastic in their stomachs. When a sea turtle swallows a plastic bag, its digestive track gets blocked, causing the turtle to become buoyant so it can no longer dive for food. This causes thousands of sea turtles to slowly starve to death while floating on the surface of the ocean.
A dying whale was discovered off the coast of western Norway with more than 30 plastic bags and other discarded plastic garbage in its stomach. The Great Beaked whale was also emaciated and had very little blubber – suggesting that it was badly malnourished.
According to Ocean Conservancy, plastic bags are among the most common pieces of garbage found on beaches. And thanks to converging ocean currents, there’s now a floating island of plastic garbage in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Twice the size of Texas, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch stretches for hundreds of miles across the North Pacific Ocean and is one of the most frightening examples of just how much human activity is violating the planet. Spanning from the West Coast of North America to Japan, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of the Eastern Garbage Patch, near Japan, and the Western Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California.
This is disgustingly amazing, a catastrophic happening that we are blind to because it’s not popular news. This should frighten everyone. Oceanographers and ecologists recently discovered that about 70% of the debris in the ocean actually sinks to the bottom, so what is known about the actual amount of waste in the ocean is likely just the very tip of the iceberg.
We are only just beginning to understand the true scale of just how much the planet is suffering as a result of marine debris. The contents of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch have been described as a toxic “plastic soup,” for which man has provided all the ingredients. The consequences of our prolific waste are clearly becoming more and more devastating and we must do something to halt this horror story, because we, the global human race, created this monster in the first place.
Whether it is too late or not is really unknown, but what is known by anyone that has the intelligence to breathe, is that we have to stop destroying our planet, this spinning globe that we “nonchalantly” call home. Some states have seen and felt the ending and are doing something to help. California, Arizona, Missouri, Idaho, Indiana, Wisconsin and Utah have banned plastic bags, or have started procedures to do so.
There are also countries that have seen and understand the devastation of what is happening and completely banned the use of plastic bags. Germany, South Africa, Italy, Australia, India, Mumbai, Somalia, Botswana, Philippines, Uganda, Kenya, Japan, Turkey, Zanzibar, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Belgium, South Korea, Singapore, Sweden, Bhutan and China have completely banned them.
Four years after China banned them, there were 40 billion fewer plastic bags put out into the world to destroy it. It’s estimated that a U.S. ban would mean 253 billion fewer bags in landfills and oceans every year. Plastic bags weren’t even introduced to grocery stores until 1977, igniting the infamous grocery store line of, “paper or plastic.” 40 years later the wrath of this want for cheaper convenience has devastated the worlds ecosystem.
It’s time to stop! Plastic grocery bags and other plastic products have already caused so much damage,. lets rid them from use before they can do more harm and destruction. Something that I feel embarrassed about is the list of 23 different countries that have banned plastic bags, is missing one, The United States of America!