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It’s Time for an Alternative to Plastic Bags and Containers

Our Plastic Ocean

Our Plastic Ocean

There’s not enough awareness about the dangers of plastic bags and containers. Sure, most people know that animals often mistake them for food, and that plastic takes a long time to decompose in landfills.

But we’ve got a big problem that is out of sight and hence out of mind. There is a plastic soup of waste that covers an area twice the size of the continental United States circulating in the Pacific ocean. And it’s growing. Google “Algalita Marine Research Foundation” or “our oceans are turning into plastic” for details.

Plastic bags and containers are the least-publicized aspect of our dependence on oil. However, breaking our dependence on plastic bags and containers should be much easier than our dependence on oil and gas for transportation, heating, and energy because some inexpensive research can lead to alternatives that decompose naturally. Some alternatives are already available, and although they are marginally more expensive we should support their introduction.

In the meantime, reuse plastic bags as much as you can and even better use re-usable bags and say “no bag thanks” when making purchases. And lead or support efforts to get stores, especially grocery stores, to stop using plastic.

I’ve had people ask me what kind of a risk there is to bacteria growing in re-usable bags, but quite frankly that problem is dwarfed by the plastic soup in the Pacific Ocean. Wash your bags and let them sun-dry, and let’s focus our energy on not making the problem worse instead of worrying about easily solved problems!

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