Why You Should Stop Using Plastic Bags Immediately

When California became the first state to ban single-use plastic bags in 2014, the news was met with surprise by consumers all over the country. Given the average American's dependence on plastic products, it's easy to see why. According to The World Counts, 5 trillion plastic bags are disposed of each year, and only a small percentage of these are recycled. While many people find that plastic bags are the most convenient method for carrying their groceries from point A to point B, there is plenty of evidence that the disastrous environmental impact of plastic bags outweighs their limited utility.

According to Treehugger, disposable plastic bags might not be as disposable as you think. This is because they take hundreds of years to break down, only to further poison the environment through microplastic particles that can stick around for many centuries. These particles end up in the soil, water, and even the food that we eat. Read on to learn more about the lasting effects of plastic bags. 

Ecological impact of plastic bags

Of course, humans are far from the only species on earth that has been affected by the widespread use of plastic bags. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the plastic used in disposable bags often contains endocrine system-disrupting additives that can cause cancer and birth defects in wildlife as well as humans. Treehugger sadly reports that some sea turtles even mistake plastic bags for prey due to their striking resemblance to jellyfish, and end up stuck in a life-or-death situation. Even more worrying, plastic bags that are left to rot in water may be stunting the prosperity of vital, oxygen-producing microorganisms, per the Center for Biological Diversity.

As One Green Planet explains, the stunning impact of plastic pollution is likely a source of rapidly rising extinction rates among many of the earth's formerly-endangered species. Factor in plastic's deleterious link to a litany of human health issues, and you don't have to be a "tree hugger" to see that our dependence on disposable plastic bags is a major problem now, and will be well into the future. Thankfully, the trend of using more sustainable, reusable bags has caught on, with more options available than ever before.