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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: When you go shopping make it a priority to bring your own bag!Bring Your Own Bag

Anytime you plan to make a purchase, bring your own bag.

  • Grocery store
  • To the mall
  • To the farmers market

There’s a lot of pressure when you’re at the checkout counter and they ask “paper or plastic.”

PLASTIC BAGS: plastic bags don’t biodegrade – that’s the process of breaking down completely into organic material which is then assimilated back into the soil. Most plastic will photo-degrade. This means, over time and when exposed to ultraviolet rays from sunlight, the plastic material’s chemical “chain” starts to break down resulting in microscopic particles that mix in with the soil. How long that process takes is not clear.

  • Every single piece of plastic ever manufactured is still on the planet.
  • It is in use, intact in landfills, as windblown litter, and also contaminating global river systems and oceans.
  • There is an estimated 46,000 pieces of plastic in each square mile of ocean. Plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year when animals mistake them for food.
  • Each reusable bag used has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime.

Introduced just over 30 years ago in 1977, the ugly truth about our plastic bag addiction is that society’s consumption rate is now estimated at well over 500,000,000,000 (that’s 500 billion) plastic bags annually, or almost 1 million per minute.

  • The U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually.
  • An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags. That’s more than 1,200 bags per US resident, per year.
  • Four out of five grocery bags in the US are now plastic.
  • The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store.
  • There are over 3,300 deaths of children each year in the US alone who die from asphyxiation from plastic bags.
  • The simple act of saying NO to plastic bags is something everyone can do.

PAPER BAGS: The production of a paper bag consumes 1 gallon of water (PER BAG) – which equals 50 times that of plastic bags.

A lot of resources are used to make the paper:

  • Trees
  • Chemicals
  • Electricity
  • Fossil fuels

Add to that the chemicals, electricity, and fossil fuels used in the shipment of this raw material and in the production and shipment of a finished paper bag.

Wendy’s web pick of the week:

Fake Plastic Fish

Fake Plastic Fish has wonderful tips for living with less plastic.

I had the honor of interviewing the founder, Beth Terry, and she is an amazing woman who is on a mission to educate the world about the evils of plastic.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at

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