Sept. 1. If you haven’t seen the signs posted in stores everywhere, I’ll tell you what this date means. Sept. 1, is the day that plastic bags have been banned from use in stores, and a ten-cent charge for paper bags have been put in place. This ban date is only for Sonoma County, though other cities and counties are pushing to put a ban on plastic bags as well.
If you are anything like me, when going to the grocery store you do everything in your power to make only one trip from the car to the house. We have all been there, grabbing all the plastic bags out of the car and piling them on to your arms while speed walking inside. I didn’t know then that plastic bags would soon be a thing of the past.
Come to find out plastic is not biodegradable and is used in almost all processed items. We use tons of plastic annually. There is even a huge floating mass in the Central North Pacific Ocean made of it. The floating mass is not solid, but made up of mostly small particles of plastic.
I mean think about it, food is wrapped in it, water bottled in it and electronics are made and packaged in it. Using cornstarch or oil is how plastic is made; because of this, the finished products are made very durable. That durability makes it ideal for everyday uses. From tires to grocery bags, plastic is used daily by most everyone.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is what the floating mass is called. It is said to be almost twice the size of Texas. This is the largest landfill in the world, and it is made up of waste from all over. The scariest part of the size, is that almost 70 percent of the plastic in the ocean is on the sea floor, enabling us from seeing it.
About 200 billion pounds of plastic are produced yearly by the world, with about 10 percent of that ending up in the oceans. It is located in a part of the ocean where there is little breeze and little to no current. This is why large amounts of waste are collecting there.
Knowing all of this new information, I am not hesitant to give up plastic bags. What plastic is doing to our environment makes me want to make the change. I quit using plastic bags over a year before the ban went into place. During this time, the ban on plastic bags was nothing but a rumor.
Along with the ban on plastic bags, there is also the ten-cent charge on paper bags. I think as a public we can do better then resorting to using paper bags. Paper bags also do a number on our environment; trees are a vital source of oxygen. To make the move to be more environmentally aware, something more needs to be done. We cannot rely on paper bags forever and reusable bags are the solution to both problems.
Desperately wanting to stop using plastic bags, whenever I forgot my reusable bags at home I would buy another in hopes to be more eco-friendly. It is understandable that retraining the mind to do something can be a challenge. I have been mindful in trying to make an effort to remember my bags, and if I do happen to forget, I will do my best to carry all the groceries to the car in my arms.
I think it is this small effort of the public that will make a difference in helping the environment in the long run. Reusable bags can be a pain to remember to grab, but cleaning plastic out of our oceans has proven to be much harder.