7 Alternatives to Plastic Bags
In our modern world, plastic products are everywhere we go, and we probably use them on a daily basis, at school, at home, and at your office. We’re heavily dependant on plastic in our lives that it’s very hard to imagine life without it. One of these plastic products are disposable plastic bags, which are admittedly convenient to use, but at what cost? As convenient as they are these plastic bags are of the major threats to the safety of our environment and for something seemingly harmless the damage they cause will take generations after generations to fix.
To begin with, plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade, which means that when UV rays strike plastic, they break the bonds holding the long molecular chain together. Over time, this can turn a big piece of plastic into lots of little toxic pieces. They also take up to 1000 years to decompose which makes them problematic in a lot of ways. That being said, plastic bags cause a lot of damage to the animals living on this planet and the environment which in turn damages our health as human beings. Did you know that plastic pollution kills up to 100,000 marine mammals each year? Check out this ocean factsheet of marine pollution to understand the situation better
A lot of animals suffer because of plastic bags. Tens of thousands of whales, birds, seals and, turtles are killed every year from plastic bag litter as they often mistake them for jellyfish. A study by the university of Queensland researcher has revealed that 52% of turtles worldwide have eaten debris. And because plastic bags, once ingested, cannot be digested or passed by an animal so it stays in the gut. Plastic in an animal’s gut can prevent food digestion and can lead to a very slow and painful death. As plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to break down, once an animal dies and decays after ingesting plastic, the plastic is then freed back into the marine environment to carry on killing other wildlife. Watch this video by National Geographic demonstrating how it feels to be trapped in a plastic bag. Not only do plastic bags affect marine life but they affect terrestrial animals as well. On land, plastic is consumed by animals like it is in the ocean. Animals eat plastic bags leading to digestive problems that could lead to their death.
Nearly 13 million tonnes of plastic is washed into the ocean every year. Some plastics release chemicals in the water leading to cancer and other health issues, but the most prevalent issue is the consumption of plastic by animals. And because they’re very lightweight and aerodynamic, they’re easily carried by wind and most often end up blocking storm sewers leading to floods and excess water that can damage cars and buildings. They also get into the soil and release toxic chemicals that destroy plants. Moreover, only 3% of plastic bags are recycled, the rest are found in the oceans and in landfills polluting natural habitats.
What can be done?
You can educate yourself on how plastic bags affect the world, and start making healthier choices. You can reuse also the bags you already have and opt for using raw materials, eco-friendly reusable bags, paper bags or recyclable bags.
To help you start, we’ve compiled a list of organic and eco-friendly products that serve as alternatives to plastic bags:
1) Green Plastic T-shirt Shopping Bags: These cool looking bags are 100% biodegradable and recyclable. They’re great for dollar stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, and anything else you want to use it for.
2) BeeGreen Reusable Grocery Bags: These reusable grocery shopping bags are made of 100% Ripstop Polyester Cloth which is ideal fabric for shopping bags. It is a lightweight fabric that is also very sturdy and resistant to rips. They’re washable and are equipped with their own integrated square pouch so you wouldn’t lose them. They fold up to fit in your pocket or purse. Great for traveling, or just grocery store shopping!
3) Earthwise Reusable Mesh Produce Bags: These premium reusable mesh produce bags can safely hold all your fresh produce, fruits and veggies as they are BPA Free and are tested and evaluated for toxicity and safety. They’re washable and they also come in different sizes for your different purposes. They serve perfectly as food storage or sandwich bags.
4) Envirosax Oriental Spice Pouch Reusable Shopping Bags: These bags are a great replacement for paper and plastic bags. They’re extremely durable and they can be folded up neatly and conveniently so they don’t take up a lot of space. Their beautiful design mixes traditional eastern imagery with modern style to create a look that is all Envirosax. They’re also washable.
5) Simply Green Solutions Blank 100% Cotton Fabric Reusable Cloth Bags: These plain cotton tote bags are a comfortable way to carry groceries, books and more. Each set includes five reusable cloth bags for on-the-go convenience at work or school. They’re eco-friendly, light-weight, and can be used repeatedly and for multiple purposes. They’re also washable. They are also known as canvas bags.
6) Plant-Based - Hippo Sak Tall Kitchen Bags: These bags are made from plant-based (sugar cane) materials instead of fossil fuel and they’re made using renewable resources to reduce your carbon footprint. They’re also 100% recyclable and can be thrown in your compost bin.
7) EuroSac Natural Cotton String Bag: These 100% reusable cotton bags are natural and chemical free. They’re strong and durable, they’re also lightweight and can easily be packed into your pocket. The cotton fabric is machine-washable.
More people are beginning to realize the impact that plastic bags have, and they’re choosing alternatives. Even governments are starting to take action; many states and governments have passed plastic bag ban to help reduce plastic waste. To keep our planet clean, and save the homes and lives of the creatures living on it we have to cut our plastic waste by using eco-friendly bags that are recyclable or reusable and don’t harm the environment. We've gathered more sustainable alternatives to plastic products for you like plastic straw alternatives and plastic free water bottles.