Disposable plastic shopping bags are everywhere; they are the way we tote our purchases. The lightweight bags were introduced in the 1970s and today the average American goes through 6 single-use plastic bags a week. With a population of roughly 300 million, that’s 1.8 billion bags discarded every week, and that really adds up. In two more weeks (starting July 1st), our BRFM vendors will no longer give you a plastic bag when you shop with them. Here are some of the reasons why:
- A plastic bag can take from 15-1,000 years to break down, depending on the environment it ends up in.
- Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they undergo photo degradation (decomposition through exposure to light). They break down into smaller and smaller, toxic particles that leech toxins into water and soil.
- The cost to recycle plastic bags outweighs their value, so most recycling facilities will not take them. Instead of being recycled, they are often thrown into landfills with the rest of the trash.
- Thanks to their light weight, plastic bags in landfills don’t always stay there. They are likely to fly away and can settle in trees, block storm drains causing flooding, and clutter beaches.
- Discarded plastic bags have turned up as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as the Falkland Islands, according to the British Antarctic Survey.
- Plastic bags are made from petroleum products and natural gas, both non-renewable resources, and their manufacture helps to drive up gas prices.
- It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic bags that the U.S. uses every year.
- Some grocery stores offer discounts to customers who bring reusable bags. Others offer reusable bags for sale at the checkout.
- The average reusable bag has a lifespan equal to that of more than 700 disposable plastic bags.
- One person using reusable bags over their lifetime would remove more than 22,000 plastic bags from the environment.
We encourage visitors to the Market to bring reusable shopping bags and small sturdy containers for delicate items like berries. Let’s all do our part to “Kick the Plastic Habit” and save the planet.