Stop Plastic Bag Pollution

Living Green

bag-for-lifeIn 2009, Americans generated 30 million tons of plastic waste -- over 12 percent of their total garbage. A mere 7 percent of U.S. plastic waste was recycled. Numbers like these emphasize the importance of using less plastic...

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Plastic Free Facts

Kokua-Hawaii-Foundation Listed below are facts about single-use plastic and how plastics negatively affect the people, wildlife, economy, and environment.

Health Risks

  • Styrene can leach from polystyrene plastic and is toxic to the brain and nervous system.
  • DEHA is one of several plastics used in food containers to which people have daily exposure through food, water, air, and consumer products.  DEHA can leach into oily foods on contact and when heated. Exposure is linked to negative effects on the liver, kidney, spleen, bone formation, and body weight.
  • Bisphenol A (BPA), used in food can liners, ‘sippy’ cups, clear plastic cutlery etc. is a chemical that mimics the action of the human hormone estrogen, can leach from polycarbonate plastic.  Scientists have measured BPA in the blood of pregnant women at levels demonstrated in animals to alter development. 

Marine Life

  • Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photo-degrade—breaking down into small toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food chain when mistaken for zooplankton or jellyfish.
  • In the marine environment plastic bag litter is lethal, killing at least 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles every year. After an animal is killed by plastic bags, its body decomposes and the plastic is released back into the environment where it can kill again.
  • Worldwide, the United Nations Environment Program has calculated there are 13,000 pieces of plastic litter per square kilometer of the world's oceans.  

Economic Costs

  • Disposable bags cost our cities up to 17 cents per bag for disposal. That figure does not include external costs quality of life issues, economic loss due to litter and human health expenses.
  • According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion.
  • The world uses over 1.2 trillion plastic bags a year. That averages about 300 bags for each adult on the planet. That comes out to over one million bags being used per minute.

Solution:

  • A reusable bag can eliminate hundreds to thousands of disposable bags over its lifetime.
  • Although most people are aware that paper bags are recyclable, only about 20% of them are actually recycled. Paper bags are not the answer, During manufacturing, both paper and plastic bags emit global warming gases; create water pollution and use raw materials and energy.
  • The saying goes, “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” First, we should reduce our usage, second we should reuse materials for as long as possible and only then, third, should we recycle them. Remember plastic grocery bags have only been around since 1977, so the habit isn’t so old that we cannot break it!

Links

5 Gyres
5 Gyres
Understanding plastic pollution through exploration, education and action.

Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish encourages us to Live Life with Less Plastic. Take their Show Us Your Plastic (Trash) Challenge.

Rise Above Plastics
http://riseaboveplastics.blogspot.com
Rise Above Plastics endeavors to spur the public to actions-at home, at the store, at city hall. 

Algalita Marine Research
www.algalita.org/
Algalita’s research team is at the forefront of the investigation into plastic pollution in our oceans.

Message in the Waves
www.messageinthewaves.com
The website for a film from the BBC Natural History Unit looking at some of the environmental challenges facing the people and wildlife of the Hawaiian Islands. 

The Story of Bottled Water
http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater
This seven-minute animated film uses simple images and words to explain the bottled water industry.

The Story of Stuff
http://storyofstuff.com
‘The Story of Stuff’ is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled film looks at the underside of our production and consumption patterns.
‘The Story of Stuff: The Book’ has all the information in the movie and MORE!

1 Bag At A Time
www.onebagatatime.com
1 Bag at a Time sell reusable bags and provide information on the dangers of plastics in our environment.

The Majestic Plastic Bag - A Mockumentary
The Majestic Plastic Bag - A Mockumentary is a short-form “nature mockumentary” is narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons and tracks the “migration” of a plastic bag from a grocery store parking lot to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean. Produced by Heal the Bay.

 

Source: Kokua Hawaii Foundation

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