Plastic Bags: Break the Cycle

By happy • December 8th, 2014

 

Canadians take home 55 million plastic shopping bags each week, with a large percentage ending up in the landfill. Once in the earth, it can take 1,000 years for a plastic bag to breakdown while emitting harmful and toxic chemicals deep into the soil. Just in Metro Vancouver alone, approximately 24,000 tonnes of plastic bags end up with this same fate — that’s about 11 kilograms of plastic bags per person.

plastic recycling

Plastic bags are made from either high-density polyethylene (HDPE #2) or low-density polyethylene (LDPE #4). LDPE is a thick, glossy plastic that is typically used by retail stores, while HDPE is a thin lightweight plastic that you can often find at grocery stores.  While a popular choice due to their convenience and strength, plastic bags clog up storm drains, suffocate wildlife, and are having a huge impact in on our planet.

You may have heard that plastic bags are recyclable and that they can be made into new bags, landscape timber, plastic lumber, picnic tables and miscellaneous bins. In fact, there are curbside programs that offer this option, as well as local grocery stores that accept this type of material.  However, this is more like putting a Band-Aid on the problem. Making something “recyclable” should be the very last option, especially when it comes to plastic. It’s no wonder states like Califiornia, New York, and Chicago have started to ban plastic bags all together – an initiative that should be introduced in Canada!

plastic recycling

So, what can you do? Simple. Bring a reusable cloth bag. They’re inexpensive, eco-friendly, and more durable than their plastic counterparts. Plus you can wash them and reuse them over and over again without issues. If you invest as little as $5 into a higher end bag, the return will often be years of use. Compactable bags are also a great option; buy a few and throw them in your car, purse, or gym bag, that way you’re never without them. With the holidays coming up, they make awesome stocking stuffers!

Take the Happy Stan Challenge and try to commit an entire month without plastic bags. Tweet us your progress and we’ll offer any tips to motivate you to keep going! (Tag @happystans)

 

Photo Source: The Guardian, Etsy

 

 

 

 

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