5 Harmful Effects of Plastic Bags
Plastic bags are a staple in our daily lives. From carrying groceries, holding food in Ziploc bags, to picking up dog poop, we use them all the time. Last year manufacturers produced an estimated 5 trillion plastic bags. However, there are many harmful effects of plastic bags on the environment and human health. We must make the switch to compostable bags to curb all these harmful effects.
1. Human Health
Plastic bags can negatively impact human health in several ways including asthma and lung complications, body tissue degradation by microplastics, decreased fertility and hormonal interference in women, increase risk of prostate cancer for men, and an increased risk of breast cancer from BPA.
2. Harmful to Wildlife
A majority of plastic bags aren’t recycled but end up in the environment. This can have a huge impact on wildlife because many species can mistake a plastic bag for prey.
For example, sea turtles often mistake a floating plastic bag for their main source of food, jellyfish. After the sea turtle swallows the bag, it blocks their digestive tract and causes them to starve.
Although these bags do not decompose, they do break down after a while into toxic chemicals and microplastics.
Microplastics will build up over time in an animal’s body and can degrade body tissues or even change the behavior of an animal.
3. Plastic Bags Are Made from Petroleum
Plastic is produced using products from petroleum. Petroleum is a nonrenewable resource that is taking an increasing number of resources just to extract and has been shown to have a huge number of negative impacts on the environment.
4. Extremely Slow to Decompose
Plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. However, there is no actual evidence of plastic breaking down since the first plastic was only invented around 115 years ago.
The #1 thing that sailors see in the ocean is plastic bags. Considering that there are an estimated 51 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the oceans alone, it is no wonder that sailors see them so often.
Plastic bags also accumulate in landfills and drainage systems. While in landfills, they release toxic chemicals that seep into our groundwater. Groundwater that we use to drink and to water our crops. Bags may clump onto other pieces of trash in drainage systems and cause huge blockages in pipes.
Compostable bags can solve these issues by breaking them down into natural, organic compounds, so they won’t stick around forever. You can even place them in your backyard compost pile that you can then spread throughout the yard.
5. Plastic Bags Release Toxic Chemicals
Plastic bags release toxic chemicals while they are breaking down, into the atmosphere during production, and when landfills incinerate the trash.
When plastic is burned it releases three main chemicals: Carbon Monoxide, dioxin and furans, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause serious tissue damage and death in humans at high enough concentrations. Dioxin and furans are known carcinogens. VOCs can cause a variety of respiratory issues from irritation to chronic lung disease.
How Can You Help?
Does all of this talk about the harmful impacts of plastic bags make you want to never see a plastic bag again in your life? Then make the switch to use compostable bags like those provided by Ecobag. If you are just a consumer, then make sure to recommend Ecobag to your local retailer describing why they must switch to compostable.
Any big change has to begin somewhere, let it start with you.