The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Plastic bags bad for planet

By Elizabeth Na

Plastic bags are extremely harmful to the environment, as are most plastics, and they have become extremely misused in normal everyday life.

If Californians seriously care about the planet, then we need to do something to stop the hazardous effects that millions of invincible, everlasting plastic bags are doing to the environment, and switch to other practical options that are already available.

Plastic bags are made from petroleum and do not biodegrade. Some experts predict the lifespan of a plastic bag ranges from 500 to 1000 years.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Americans use 100 billion plastic bags every year, meaning every year, another 100 billion bags are added to the existing number. That is a lot of bags that never go away.

Environment California estimates 19 billion plastic bags are used statewide every year, accounting for almost one-fifth of the nation’s consumption. A statewide ban would cut down significantly on America’s pollution and would be a trailblazing example, as the first state to make this ban.

And pollution is absolutely the correct term. The Environmental Protection Agency reports only 5.2 percent of all plastic bags are recycled, meaning the rest find their way to landfills, streets, the ocean, and almost anywhere else they don’t belong. This automatically undermines any argument saying disposable bags are generally reused. With such a small percentage being recycled, it is clear that most people do not have a use for them except as just one-time disposable bags most of the time.

Solutions to the plastic bag problem are anticlimactic, like paper and reusable bags, but they are the only environmentally friendly options we have. Paper bags are a wiser alternative, despite the fact they are more expensive. They decompose in a few months and when they are made from recycled paper, there are few downsides to using them. Consumers should be charged 5 to 10 cents per paper bag and since they should be reusable, they would start piling up around the house after a few trips.

The most resourceful and environmental option is the reusable bag. They generally cost from $1 to $5 and they can be washed and reused from that first purchase onwards and they would cut down on waste from all angles.

The state legislature should ban plastic bags and it should eventually become national policy.

***Elizabeth Na wrote this article as part of a debate for Comm 225.

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