It’s the year 3015. You’re not here, but the plastic bags you used to carry your groceries home today still remain. One thousand years from now, what you used to transport your milk and eggs from the supermarket will just be beginning to disintegrate, although the plastic bag will never truly disappear.
Plastic bags are basically the cockroaches of modern plastics – no matter what happens to them, they will survive.
“But I recycle my plastic bags,” you say. “Great,” is my reply, “Except only 2-3% of the whopping 100 billion plastic bags used in the United States each year are recycled.”
I can’t imagine what 100 billion looks like in terms of Oreos, much less ugly plastic bags, so if that number scares you, you’re not alone.
But the sheer number of seemingly immortal bags isn’t the only reason to hate them so much. They litter the environment, from blowing off trees to tumbling across highways. They can leech toxins into water and soil. They choke animals, clog landfills and fuel the use of nonrenewable energy sources.
It’s estimated that 100,000 to 1 million sea animals die each year from attempting to ingest plastic bags. What’s the point of saving the whales if we’re killing everyone else, am I right? Plastic bags create devastating losses of marine life entirely on their own, so if we fix that problem, imagine how many lives and ecosystems we could help.
Aside from causing a massive litter problem, plastic bags are inherently dangerous. Instead of biodegrading, grocery bags photo-degrade into a toxic form of what they once were. These toxic disintegrations seep into the Earth and poison its natural state.
Worth it? Absolutely not.
And if you really think about it overall, plastic bags suck. They pile up in your apartment and create an ugly, plastic mountain that you say you’ll recycle at some point. They rip and tear just when you need them to come through for you, and then your new packs of yogurt splatter all over the parking lot.
Plus many stores are (finally) charging you when you use their plastic bags – so go ahead and use the plastic bags, but you’ll be paying for them.
But what should we do about it? After all, we’re not business executives or media personalities. We’re students with loans and unpaid interns and part-time job holders.
Plus, with wars and hunger and political upheaval, it doesn’t really seem like plastic bags should be something we should be too concerned about anyways, right?
That’s where you’re wrong.
No one person can bring an end to humanity’s need for plastic bags, but you can bring an end to your personal need for plastic bags. As our world increasingly warms up to ideas of sustainability, represent our forward-thinking generation and change your lifestyle in one simple way: use reusable bags.
It’s seriously that easy.
One person’s switch from plastic to reusable grocery bags can save a whopping 22,000 plastic bags in one lifetime, according to ReuseThisBag.com. Just with that number, I’m in.
Reusable bags are much sturdier than plastic grocery bags, so you won’t need to worry about your yogurt again. Some bags are even styled with pockets and extra support so your products will be safe and snug as you travel home. Certain stores will give you a discount for bringing in your own reusable bags, so making this switch could actually save you money, too.
You’re a college student, you’re smart. This is really a no-brainer.
Every time you use a reusable bag to bring your groceries or other store purchases home, you keep one less bag from hanging around planet earth for much too long. And it can even be foodie, or quirky or fun to be renewable, depending on the types of bags you buy.
Shop in style and save the planet while you’re at it? Yes, please.