…On the eleventh day of Christmas my green friend gave to me…eleven jute bags…ten kitchen towels…nine milkweed plants…eight chocolate bars…seven bales of straw…six coffee plants…five bamboo toothbrushes…four stainless straws…three pairs of socks…two recycled pallets…and a new electric car!
Plastic bags have the lowest carbon footprint creating the argument for not banning them. However the disposal of these plastic bags has become a major problem! Most of us have become acutely aware of the plastic pollution in our oceans and the devastating effect on our sea animals! They are filling up our landfills and getting blown into many storm drains leading to increased flooding. As someone who walks the beach daily I average one plastic bag a day during my trash gathering. Keep this in mind – plastic bags are forever and do not decompose!
Many countries have banned single use plastic bags to do their part in helping the environment. While the US has not banned plastic bags eight states, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont, have banned plastic bags. Sadly I have to say Florida, bordered by large bodies of water, has even prohibited any future legislation that limits the use of polystyrene products! Fortunately many retailers across the country and local shops have stopped using plastic bags on their own initiative.
There have been many discussions about banning plastic bags or imposing a tax on them. Some stores don’t provide any bags but you can purchase bags at checkout. Other stores give you a bag credit for your own bag which many people like. Personally I would prefer a ban but each state should create a solution that will work best for the majority of people in their state. Vox.com published an interesting article by Matthew Zeitlin about this, “Do plastic bag taxes or bans curb waste? 400 cities and states tried it out“. Click on the title to read the article. Keith estimates that about 500 BILLION plastic bags are used each year around the world! We could easily cover the planet four times with all these plastic bags!
If your city, county or state is planning to ban plastic bags or you have made your own ban on plastic bags you should understand not all “green” bag alternatives are as green as you might think, Choosing paper bags instead of plastic at the store is not the best choice since producing them in quantity requires a lot of water, fuel and cut-down trees, Cotton and canvas bags are also a good alternative as long as you choose organic products. Regular cotton farming uses a lot of pesticides, insecticides and water to grow the plants and depletes the soil of necessary nutrients and contributes to the poisoning and depletion of our water. The best environmental choice for reusable bags is jute or burlap (aka hessian) both of which are made of natural and readily renewable plant fibers..
So on this eleventh day my green friend gifted me eleven jute bags. When I first started bringing my own bags I had a hard time remembering to grab one when I walked in the store. I can keep a couple in the car, Now I can put a couple bags in my car and a couple in my garage to catch my attention and even give a couple to friends. If your New Year’s resolutions include reusable bags try to use the greenest ones possible or recycle your old t-shirts or jeans and make your own!
Thank you for taking time to read my post! Please come back tomorrow for the Twelfth and last Day of a Green Christmas! If you’re curious about the history of the Twelve Days of a Green Christmas you can find that here. Join me tomorrow and see what my Green Friend gifts me…I’m sure it will be fun, educational, or possibly edible! Whatever the gift I know it will make a positive impact on the environment!