Give up plastic bags

 

 

Why give up plastic & plastic bags in partiuclar? 

 
This turtle was discovered to have a plastic straw up its nostril, thanks to people using plastic straws.
 

from the Leatherback Trust
 
The Leatherback Trust reports that "While on a research project in Costa Rica, Nathan J. Robinson removed a 10 cm (4 in) plastic straw that was entirely embedded into the nostril of an olive ridley sea turtle. Lamentably, this is a consequence of the world of single-use, non-biodegradable plastic that we currently live in.

There is a solution and it lies in our own decisions. Please say no to all single-use plastic. Every plastic straw, plastic bag, or plastic bottle that ends up in the oceans could mean the difference between life or death for any number of marine animals."

Why give up plastic bags to help animals?

Wildlife & marine life think plastic bags are food.  So they eat them - or try to.  You imagine trying to swallow and digest a plastic bag. Such an act by an animal can lead to blockages in the body, followed by starvation and death. 

Small birds and mammals on land, sea turtles and marine mammals in the sea and on shore may well be mistaken for food.  Many sea animals who eat jelly fish or squid think plastic bags are just that - jelly fish or squid.  

The Marine Conservation Society says that plastic bags have been found in the stomachs of endangered species eg leatherback turtles. harbour porpoises & black footed albatross. The Society also notes that in February 2004. a rare Cuvier’s beaked whale washed up on the Isle of Mull.  The entrance to his stomatch was totally blocked with a cylinder of tightly packed shredded black plastic bin liner bags and fishing twine.  It further notes that whole plastic bags. gallon drums and balloons have been assumed by wildlife to be food and eaten by mammal, turtle and shark species.  Balloons don't do animals any good either.

It takes about 450 to 1,000 for plastic to degrade at sea but many plastics just simply break down and down into smaller and small bits to be ingested by species living in the sea - which can ultimately come up the food chain to you and I.

There's more....

  • Animals get strangled by plastic bags as they try to break free from them.
  • The production and disposal of plastic bags contributes to global warming.
  • Because plastic bags are so very light, the wind easy picks them up and whips them away into the trees, the skies, lakes, ponds, rivers and seas. They clog up drains. Back in 2001, the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 reported that between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed annually worldwide. 1 to 3% of these bags end up outside landfill sites.
  • About 17.5 billion plastic bags are distributed to UK shoppers every year - most of these end up in land fill rubbish dumps
  • Fine particles of plastic now lie on beaches around the world - on the shores of the homes of wildlife & marine animals. The Marine Conservation Society says that 8,174 plastic bags were found on UK beaches during Beachwatch 2008 - a whopping 46.5 bags per kilometre of beach that was surveyed. Plastic bags came 14th in the top 20 most common litter items.

Here are some ideas to help you give up plastic bags

  1. Keep an environmentally friendly bag in your car boot or next to your car keys, so it's easy to remember as you head out to the shops
  2. Indulge in vanity.  Environmentally friendly bags tend to look far nicer to carry than a plastic bag.  Go for the smart, fashionable look!
  3. Where you do have plastic bags, reuse them about the house for small waste paper baskets, packing shoes when going away, or keep them in a big bag for use as you need them around the house.
  4. Create a association in your mind between the two acts of using eco-friendly shopping bags with helping wildlife.  Focus hard on how you are personally are helping wildlife by not using plastic bags. Just think of your favourite wild animal trying to digest a plastic bag in your mind as you open your front door to go shopping. Associate the two things together in your mind - plastic bags = danger to the environment and wildlife.  Giving up plastic bags = helping wildlife. 
  5. Find out more about the damage plastic bags do.  The more you know about them, the more you are likely to act.
  6. Persist. Don't give up in changing your habits.  Find something which works for you.  Jot down all the possible ways in which you can break the plastic bag habit and then pick on the one which is most likely to succeed.  If that doesn't work, try something else.  Don't berate yourself when you do forget your shopping bag.  Just remember it next time


 

Think before you use a plastic bag....you never know where it will end up

 A plastic bag like a leaf in a gale - the wind takes the leaf wherever she blows Where your plastic bag will end up, so nobody knows

More you can do to get involved...

Actions speak louder than words and the more you're willing to do, the more committed you'll feel to changing your habits so for more info you could visit these links:

  • China orders supermarkets to stop giving away free plastic bags & forbids the production of ultra-thin plastic bags...More
  • Write to your MP, MEP, local council or politician and ask for a plastic bag ban
  • Write to your supermarket and find out what they are doing to get rid of plastic bags
  • Join in Beachwatch's mission to clean up the beaches
  • Spend an hour picking up plastic bags in the countryside or on the beach
  • Lead by example - just don't use plastic bags.  Make a statement every time you shop!  Tell people about the damage plastic bags can do.

If you're looking for a bag as a gift for someone and want to help conservation and wildlife at the same time, you could take a look at the National Trust Online Shop which has some pretty bags (not just shopping) enabling you to help the National Trust preserve and protect beautiful places.  You could also look at the Eden Project's online shop, where you'll find a variety of shopping and shoulder bags.