This week's challenge is to go 7 days without using any (new) plastic bags. As a bonus challenge, you can write about plastic bags environmental impact on your blog. So far, I have been able to avoid plastic bags at the grocery store and elsewhere, although I had to put the wet carrots in my reusable bag and that was kinda weird. But a little water never killed anyone.
As for their environmental impact, I could do a bunch of research about bags, decomposition, recycling, yadda, yadda, yadda. But I figured I would give the consultant in me a chance to flex her atrophied muscles and do some back-of-the-envelope estimating.
- On average, I would estimate that the typical U.S. household goes the grocery once per week. Because that's what I do.
- At the grocery store, the average consumer buys enough stuff to "fill" approximately 10 plastic bags. Baggers tend to put very few things in each bag so this estimate might even by low.
- In addition to grocery stores, I estimate that the average American consumer goes to non-grocery stores three times per week.
- These non-grocery store trips result in an average of 5 bags, total.
- So, in a week, I estimate the average American household uses 15 NEW plastic bags.
- There are approximately 120 million households in America.
- 120,000,000 x 15 = 1,800,000,000 or 1.8 billion plastic bags per week.
- 1.8b x 52 weeks = 93 billion bags per year! Yowza.
OK, so that's just my quickie analysis of US household consumption of plastic bags. This doesn't include other uses/users or other countries. And I had to look it up for real and apparently the global annual consumption of these bags is 500 billion. So my estimate seems to be in the ball park since the US is probably one of the bigger offenders.
What this means is that if you, as the buyer-of-all-stuff-for-your-family, can make a serious impact. This is one of those things where households make up the majority of consumption, not some random businesses and industries. So, we are also the ones who have to curb that consumption if we hope to see a difference. And let's be honest. Giving up plastic bags is not like giving up long, hot showers or hours upon hours of TV. Do you really love plastic bags? I didn't think so. And that makes it pretty easy to just let them go. Give it a try this week and maybe it will become a regular habit for you, too.