We all know the plastic bags we’ve grown to use and love for their convenience have a dark side. They originate from fossil fuels and sadly end up in landfills and the oceans around the world. Many sea turtles can’t differentiate between plastic bag debris and jellyfish and consume them. Birds mistake the bits of plastic bags for food and end up with a stomach full of toxic debris. Small fish consume tiny amounts of plastic bag pieces and then are eaten by bigger fish which transfer the toxic elements to larger animals and other marine mammals. There are even bits of hazardous microplastics that are showing up in our bloodstream. In a recent study, it was estimated there will be more plastic waste in the ocean than there are fish by 2050.

Plastic Bags are Bad for the Environment

The problem with using plastic bags is their negative effect on the environment. It takes around a thousand years for these bags to break down after they’re dumped in a landfill. If they’re burned they release toxic chemicals into the air and if they’re buried the plastic contributes to toxins being released into the soil. Plastic bags have been dumped into the ocean and landfills for decades and that’s caused unregulated amounts of carcinogenic substances like carbon monoxide to be released into our environment.

Plastic bags that have been thrown away are also detrimental to the farming community. The effects of this are not only harmful to the foods we eat, the consequences will have long term repercussions on society and the planet.

But things are changing. Many Canadian communities are beginning to realise that the use of plastic bags should be eliminated from our daily lives. Biodegradable alternatives are being explored while people make the switch to paper and reusable bags. By moving the public’s need for plastic bags to more healthy equivalents we could end these harmful effects in the future.

5 Reasons Plastic Bags Need To Go Away

  1. They’re manufactured from non-renewable resources and contribute to climate change. Most bags are made from polyethene which is a substance that comes from natural gas processes and crude oil refining. Both are non-renewable resources derived from mining fossil fuels. During extraction and production, the process generates greenhouse gases which is a direct cause of global warming.
  2. Plastic bags never really dissolve completely. On average, the typical plastic bag is only used for about 12 minutes before it’s thrown away. When it ends up in the environment, it never completely degrades back into the earth. Small bits of the discarded bag end up in the oceans, in wildlife and the soil all around us.
  3. The negative impact on marine wildlife. When marine life such as sea turtles mistake plastic bag bits for food it usually ends up suffocating the animal. A few years ago a dead whale washed ashore with over 5.8 kilograms of discarded plastic waste in its stomach. The items were a bag that contained 1000 pieces of string, several plastic bags, over 100 drinking cups and even a pair of flip flops. This is alarming and tragic news about what we’re doing to the environment.
  4. They negatively impact human health. It’s not just wildlife that’s affected by the plastic waste in the environment. The plastic bags you used to carry your groceries home could end up in your food and drinking water. Bits of plastic have been found in the seafood we eat and in our tap water. There have been estimates made that half of the world’s population may have bits of microplastics in their digestive systems. These kinds of toxins can not only stress the liver but allow other toxins to enter our bodies.
  5. Plastic bags are difficult to recycle. Plastic bags can be recycled into new products but the equipment needed to do so properly can be very expensive. Like most other elements we recycle, plastic needs to be clean. Many times this is not the case and much of the plastic can’t be reused. That’s when they end up in landfills. Because most bags are lightweight, many blow away and end up in other areas. The best solution is for us to stop using them altogether.

Our Responsibility

Each of us can minimise our use of disposable plastics to eliminate waste in our environment. Our habits can quickly change. There are good alternatives available and we should only use plastic items when it’s absolutely necessary. With a bit of mindfulness, we can keep many types of plastics out of landfills by recycling before we simply throw them away. It’s critical to our global health that we educate ourselves and change our behaviour when it comes to using plastic bags. The improvement in our health is worth the expense of ending the use of certain plastics in our daily lives. There are many ways each of us can make a difference that can begin today. We can voluntarily make sure we’re recycling items in our homes properly. Get involved in neighbourhood clean up programs. Enforce illegal dumping and littering of plastic shopping bags. We can all start using eco-friendly items as a healthy alternative to plastic bags and other disposable items.

Making A Difference

We here at Manville Recycling have been committed to recycling in the greater Toronto area for nearly 20 years. Our professionals have all of the resources available when it comes to properly recycling items in your home. If you’re not sure how to properly dispose of certain items in your home beyond plastic bags we can help! Our experts have all the answers about things you may be thinking of getting rid of and items that should be recycled.

Give us a call today at 416-751-4732 and chat with one of our people about any questions you may have about recycling and how you can make a difference in the environment. You can also stop by our website to learn more about what we collect. Spring is just around the corner and it’s a perfect time to make some changes that will make the world a better place for future generations!