Bye, Bye Bag Lady, Reusable Bags for Me!
Challenge everyone in your family to take reusable bags whenever they go and avoid using plastic bags! This simple step to preserve natural resources really adds up when you think of all the plastic bags you might use in a year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 380 billion plastic shopping bags are used in the U.S. annually. Only a tiny fraction (0.6 percent) of the plastic bags are recycled. As many as 1 trillion plastic bags may be used globally each year, or about one million bags per minute.
It takes 1,000 years for plastic bags to degrade. In addition, plastic bags contain harmful chemical such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and diethylhexyl phthalate, which is a carcinogen (CANCER CAUSING). About 100,000 birds, marine mammals, whales, and sea turtles each year either choke to death on plastic bags, or die of an intestinal blockage after eating one.
Whole Foods Market announced in December 2007 that it will no longer offer plastic grocery bags at the checkouts in its two stores in Austin, Texas, where the world’s leading natural and organic foods supermarket is headquartered.
“Let’s face it, plastic bags fill landfills, harm our water systems and wildlife, and litter our roadsides and communities. We are discontinuing the use of these bags in support of our Core Value of ‘caring for our Communities and our Environment,’ which includes adopting wise environmental practices.” said Seth Stutzman, Whole Foods Market’s Southwest regional vice president. “By partnering with our shoppers, we can together bring the plastic bag issue to the forefront in Austin to help protect the environment in our hometown and our planet at large.”
Eliminating plastic grocery bags at its Austin checkout counters will be a test for the Company and will serves as the first step to ban such bags companywide by early next year. Paper bags made exclusively for Whole Foods Market from 100 percent recycled content will continue to be an option for shoppers.
Day by day, bag by bag, everyone can really make a difference by choosing alternatives to plastic at retail checkout counters.
Steps are being taken in many countries to curb plastic bag use. The Republic of Ireland has enacted a 15 cent tax on plastic shopping bags, which has curbed their use by 90 percent in that country. Bangladesh banned plastic shopping bag after finding that they were blocking drainage systems and causing floods. Taiwan, Singapore, South Africa, and several East African countries have also banned plastic shopping bags. The housewares chain IKEA is now charging five cents per plastic bag, and estimates the move will reduce plastic bag use in their U.S. stores by 50 percent.