Chances are, if you’re like most Americans, you’ve already begun your Christmas shopping this year. But you probably have many more trips to your local stores to pick up even more gifts. In fact, the National Retail Federation predicts that this year’s shopping spend is going to be phenomenal. It predicts that local shoppers will spend an astonishing $656 billion on gifts, which is 3.6 percent higher than last year. And online shoppers are predicted to spend 7 to 10 percent more, which is about $177 billion.
That’s a huge amount of packages that will be placed in plastic bags, and then later wrapped in more paper to give as a gift.
Wow—that’s quite an environmental impact all stemming from Christmas shopping, isn’t it?
Luckily, there are some steps people can take that will help reduce that impact a little bit, but it will take some minor effort on your part. For instance, instead of allowing your local store to put your package in a plastic bag, why not take your own reusable shopping bag with you? This one step can make a huge difference for our planet.
If you’re not yet convinced, here are three important reasons why you should make the switch to reusable shopping bags.
They Reduce the Oil Reserves
Let’s face it, there is only so much oil in the world, and we need it to fuel our cars and continue to live kind of lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to—until someone figures out how to create an alternative system that is practical and affordable. But those plastic bags consume an enormous amount of that oil. For instance, people use 1 trillion plastic bags a year, and it takes 100 million barrels of oil to produce all of those bags. If everyone made the switch to reusable shopping bags, all that oil could be used for energy, and it would likely result in gasoline and energy price reductions.
They’re Ruining our Oceans
Did you know that it takes plastic bags hundreds of years, even up to a thousand, for to biodegrade? That’s important because the bags are so expensive to recycle that most of them don’t end up in recycling centers, but instead end up in landfills and our waterways, including the ocean. Which leads us to our next point.
They Cause Cancer
As if using up the reserves of our precious oil and killing marine animals isn’t enough, plastic bags can also cause cancer. How? Because all those bags that aren’t recycled end up in our ocean. In fact, there is a huge floating garbage dump in the middle of the ocean filled with them. But once plastic bags come in contact with water, they won’t ever fully degrade, but instead turn into what is known as “plastic dust.” This dust contains biotoxin compounds, which are also known as PCB’s. And once those PCBs break down, they can enter our food source, which are known to cause cancer in humans, as well as immune and nervous system disorders.
Sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it? Granted it’s a large problem that needs addressing, but instead of just worrying about it, why not do your part by saying no to plastic bags and instead take along your own reusable shopping bag this holiday season?