The plastic bag is an inconspicuous killer. Bags pose a triple threat and a perpetual dangerous cycle for earth and its inhabitants. Animals are killed by consuming or being trapped by a plastic bag. The bags also easily escape landfills and take over the ocean, the side of the road, our backyards, or just about anywhere else that the wind (or a careless person) takes them. And worst of all, these plastic bags can last more than 100 years. This means that even though we are taking steps to reduce the ubiquitous waste, we’ll still be dealing with its effects for years to come. My initial concept of the plastic bag as a threat to animals was essentially Rebecca Hosking’s documentary footage of the bags getting damaging sea coral or getting tangled in dolphins’ fins. I knew it was a nuisance, but I had no idea of the extent to which these plastic bags could torture animals. I was shocked to learn that animals (the documentary used cows as an example) can consume just a small piece of a single bag, and that could be enough to block its stomach, slowly and painfully starving it to death. This leads me to say that there’s no question about it: we must cut down on plastic waste. Many people have already moved toward change. For example, the “I’m not a plastic bag” fashion bag movement has been accepted in London. The video also showed the noble efforts of Rebecca Hosking as she converted an entire small town to cloth and/or biodegradable bag team. Today many large corporate chains are also making the slow conversion to offering reusable cloth bags in addition to paper and plastic. I especially appreciate the gro
cery store Aldi’s policy on bags, which encourages customers to reuse their old bags or pay about 10 cents per plastic bag to lug their goods. Adopting a policy like this is an easy way for any business to act locally, yet thinking globally. However, there’s no need to jump from one bag-consuming extreme to the anti-plastic opposite. Plastic manufacturers aren’t evil for making a product that’s cheap, convenient and readily available. It’s also important to recognize that it’s only a waste if someone carelessly disposes of it or doesn’t reuse it for something else. Cutting down on our plastic waste certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing, but I doubt that bag litter means end-all doom for earth.