Plastic Bags Ban
reusabDuring the 1990's environmentalists began telling us about the dangers that plastic bags present to our environment and to the wildlife living in our environment. It was thought that the United States was using around 292 million plastic, single use bags annually, with only about 13% of those bags being recycled. These bags do not biodegrade when discarded but they do keep breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces which remain hazardous to animals, birds and marine life. Many end up in landfills, but far too many are found in the stomachs of deceased animals.
Many governmental and legislative bodies began looking into what they could do to alleviate the damage being done to our environment by these small, single use bags. City governments were the first to put bans in place. State governments were next to establish bans for retail stores. Most grocery stores, which were and continue to be the worst offenders, set up recycling bins to encourage their customers to return the bags to be recycled. They also began having cloth bags available for purchase and encouraging their customers to use them.
Most stores continued to offer paper bags, usually made with recycled paper, when customers requested them. In an effort to encourage people to use alternative bags, some bans required the store to charge a small fee for paper bags, which the store was able to keep to offset the cost of having the paper bags.
In the early 2000's large cities, many of which were located on the west coast, began to ban the use of plastic single use bags. Sometimes the ban required stores to charge customers for plastic bags and some outright banned them from use. In addition to banning plastic bags, some required stores to provide paper bags and charge a small fee of five or 10 cents for the bag.
As the public became more aware of the need to limit the use of bags made of plastic, many people began to look for alternatives. Most people have found that bags made of heavy canvas fabric with very sturdy handles work quite well as alternatives. These bags are reusable, are inexpensive to buy, and can be cleaned very easily. Some of the reusable bags are lined with a thermal material in order to keep frozen items frozen and meat items chilled to avoid spoilage.
The reusable bags do require that the shopper remember to take them when they do their shopping. This is something that will become habitual with time and use.
This is a change that we should all embrace and feel good about. This change may inspire people to look around and ask what else we can all do to protect our environment.
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