By Ruth Green
When considering both current and pending legislation to ban the use of plastic bags, there seems to be more reasons to support the ban than there are in support of their continued use.
There are several reasons to banish the use of plastic bags: they are not biodegradable (which means they do not break down easily); are a huge menace to marine life; get stuck in storm drains; litter beaches; cause flooding; and according to a study conducted by Toxics in Packaging, the inks and colorants used in some plastic bags contain lead – a toxin.
The movement to ban plastic bags has become a national movement, and California became the very first state to prohibit single- use plastic bags in grocery stores.
Although environmentalists celebrated this achievement as the culmination of years of campaign- ing to educate the public about the dangers of plastic bags, their opponents (including suppliers of plastic bags) have fiercely lobbied to overturn the ban before it goes into effect this summer.
Currently, there are no laws in the state of Ga. banning the use of plastic bags.
Nevertheless, I myself tend to carry at least two reusable bags with me on a daily basis primarily because I never know when I might need one, and because plastic bags are messy.
Some stores will load you up with them, placing one item in a bag.
When I use them, I always make a point of re-bagging my own groceries thereby eliminating about half of the bags given to me by the stores. This way, I reduce a great deal of waste.
In her article, “Should Georgia Ban Plastic Bags, Too?” journalist Lisa Swafford of the Daily Citizen argues that eco-friendly reusable bags are definitely an alternative to plastic bags.
Citing a study, Swafford explains, “Non-woven, polypropylene bags need to be used only 11 times to reduce their global warming impact of their production to the level of a single plastic bag.”
We have become accustomed to using plastic bags when we shop, because our purchases are usually placed in a bag for free.
These bags are lightweight, and some stores will even double them for you.
Plastic bags may be cheap, plentiful and convenient, but the long- term consequences of using them will end up being more costly than we can imagine.
For now, we as consumers should consider how we can phase plastic bags out of our lives and get used to the idea of alternate options.