Title: The Case for a Worldwide Ban on Plastic Bags: Protecting the Environment and Wildlife
Plastic bags have become a ubiquitous part of our daily lives, and many people do not realize the adverse impact they have on our environment. These bags are lightweight, cheap, and convenient, which is why they are widely used in retail stores and supermarkets. However, plastic bags are also non-biodegradable and take hundreds of years to decompose, polluting our oceans, landfills, and the atmosphere. The excessive use of plastic bags has led to environmental pollution and has endangered many species of wildlife(NCSL, 2021). Therefore, I strongly believe that the use of plastic bags should be banned worldwide to reduce environmental pollution and protect wildlife.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 100 billion plastic bags are used in the United States alone each year. Only a small fraction of these bags are recycled, and the rest end up in landfills, oceans, and other natural habitats (EPA, 2021). Plastic bags are not only an eyesore but also pose a significant threat to wildlife. Animals such as sea turtles, dolphins, and birds often mistake plastic bags for food, which can lead to injury or even death. Plastic bags can also entangle animals, causing them to suffocate or drown.
Moreover, plastic bags contribute to global warming by releasing greenhouse gases when they break down. Plastic bags take hundreds of years to decompose, and as they do, they release toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. These chemicals contribute to air pollution, which has harmful effects on human health, such as respiratory problems and cancer. In addition to environmental pollution, plastic bags also have a significant economic impact. The cost of producing and disposing of plastic bags is high, and taxpayers often bear this burden. In 2010, the cost of litter cleanup and disposal in the United States was estimated to be around $11.5 billion annually (Geyer et al., 2021). This cost could be significantly reduced if plastic bags were banned worldwide, and alternative, eco-friendly options were used instead.
Opponents of a plastic bag ban argue that plastic bags are necessary for carrying groceries and other items, and that banning them would inconvenience consumers. However, there are many alternative options that are just as convenient and eco-friendly. For example, reusable bags made from cloth or other materials can be used instead of plastic bags. These bags are durable, washable, and can be used over and over again, making them a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly option (EPA, 2021). Moreover, some retailers offer paper bags as an alternative to plastic bags, which are biodegradable and do not have as significant an impact on the environment. Some retailers even offer incentives to customers who bring their reusable bags, such as discounts or loyalty points.
In conclusion, the use of plastic bags should be banned worldwide to reduce environmental pollution and protect wildlife. Plastic bags are a significant threat to our environment and have adverse effects on human health and the economy. Alternative options, such as reusable bags and paper bags, are readily available and just as convenient. By banning plastic bags, we can take a significant step towards protecting our planet and preserving it for future generations.
- Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). Plastic bags and film. https://www.epa.gov/recycle/plastic-bags-and-film
- Geyer, R., Jambeck, J. R., & Law, K. L. (2017). Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances, 3(7), e1700782. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1700782
- National Conference of State Legislatures. (2021). Plastic bag bans in the United States. https://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/plastic-bag-legislation.aspx