With the rise in awareness of climate change and how it is impacting our communities, making the switch to reusable bags is one of the easiest ways you can adopt a greener lifestyle. In the state of Arizona, legislators and the Governor recently made it illegal for cities to impose plastic bag bans, which leaves it up to us, the residents, to make the change. Only >1% of all plastic bags are properly recycled, and the city of Phoenix alone spends $1 million dollars per year pulling plastic bags out of the recycling stream.
Plastic bags never belong in your blue bin, they must be brought to drop off locations such as Bag Central Station which can be found in many grocery stores. The 99% of plastic bags which aren’t recycled make our soil toxic and kill wildlife and ocean creatures that accidentally consume them or get tangled in them. If left in a landfill, one plastic bag can take anywhere from 20 - 1,000 years to degrade. Not only does this affect our dry land habitat, it is also extremely hazardous for our oceans. Scientists estimate that 245,000 tons of floating trash currently litter our oceans.
Places like Hawaii and California have already banned non-biodegradable plastic bags. As a customer, when and if you choose to purchase reusable bags, you can endorse a company or brand that you support, make a social and fiscally green statement, and save money that would’ve been put toward plastic bags. Reusable bags are more durable, comfortable, and can be used for various things, not limited to your trip to the grocery store. Using one reusable bag for a single year can replace 300 to 700 disposable bags. And the benefits to our planet are tremendous.
But the benefits don’t end there! Look at what it does for the economy: the U.S. goes through roughly 100 billion single-use shopping bags annually and this costs retailers roughly $4 billion. The state of California spends $428 million a year clearing trash from its beaches. It costs $4,000 to process and recycle 1 ton of disposable plastic bags. The recycled product can then be sold for a mere $32. Promoting the use of reusable bags cuts our dependence on foreign oil, which is incredibly important since it’s a finite source and endangers the planet.
The benefits are endless, especially here in Arizona where it’s easy to spot a bag that is blowing across the road or one that is caught on a beautiful saguaro. Let’s be good stewards of our planet and make the switch to reusable bags!