Ocean Conservation Tip: Alternative To Plastic Bag

Plastic bags frustrate me. Do you know why they frustrate me? they frustrate me because they are not good for the environment yet many people use them. And they smell…I never liked their smell. I understood when people used them 20 years ago to buy groceries and other goods. The only option was a paper bag, but those did not do well in the rain. However, these days there are plenty of alternative options for people to use other than plastic bags.

In Speak Up For Blue’s first video tip, I go over the options of alternative items to plastic bags that I prefer to use (see video for more details). My favourite item that I like to use is the foldable cooler for groceries. I use this cooler when I do my grocery shopping during my lunch time break from work. I can store more than 3 plastic bags worth of groceries in 1 cooler and I can leave it in my trunk for the afternoon without worrying about spoiling the products in the heat because it’s.in.a.cooler!

You are probably asking yourself why you shouldn’t use a plastic bag. Well, ask yourself this: Would you eat a plastic bag? No? Well animals do! You see, when plastic bags are thrown away they go to a landfill where it takes decades for them to break down. The bags will often get blown away and land in nature, on land and/or in a waterway like a river or stream. The bag is carried downstream where the river empties into a lake, which will eventually empty into an Ocean.

The plastic bags will still be in tact at this point and float in the water column for years. Until, an animal comes along an mistakes it for food. Sea Turtles are especially vulnerable as the plastic bags look like a jellyfish when floating. Sea Turtles love jellyfish so they will try to eat the plastic bag. The Sea Turtles can die of asphyxiation as the plastic bag can not be easily torn and can get stuck in the throat of the Sea Turtle where they will eventually die. Other animals like marine mammals, birds, and fish also fall victim to plastic bag pollution.

Plastic pollution is a huge problem in the ocean. Plastic pollution can be found in every ocean around the world. The presence of plastic in the Ocean is a result of living a wasteful lifestyle and a lack of proper waste management methodologies. Plastic bags are unnecessary as there are plenty of alternatives to use instead. This is an easy change that anyone can add to their daily lives to lead an more Ocean-friendly life!

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Carol Cohen says:

    Hi–
    I just watched Andrew Lewin’s youtube video on “alternatives to plastic bags”. It’s not complete. He shows large carry-bags for many totals of groceries or other purchased items. He mentions one can leave them in the car. He doesn’t explain how to buy 8 different kinds of fruits and vegetables, get them weighed without the cashier’s germy hands on them, then bag them in the large carry-bas oneself without stalling the line at the cash register.
    So I think we’ll have to return to using small paper bags in the grocery store produce sections. Unless someone can design a totally (and quickly) biodegradable plastic film.
    Tonight in Cambridge MA the “ban plastic bag” proposal will be voted on. I despair of its passing. Part of the reason it won’t is that there seem to be no good suggestions on how to avoid using those thin plastic bags. And how do pet owners clean up after their dogs when walking them?
    If you want to get rid of plastic bags you must provide better alternatives.

  • Carol, you are correct in that I didn’t cover everything about avoiding plastic bags at the grocery store. What I did cover was a first step: avoid plastic bags that are given to customers at the cash register to bring their groceries out to the car and into their homes. I felt that was the first step.

    I don’t want to overwhelm people right off the bat. I want people to do the changes in stages as overwhelming them could make people not want to change anything.

    I do appreciate the fact that the small plastic bags given for fruits and vegetables are a problem as there aren’t many alternatives to them; however, here is a link to an alternative http://www.amazon.com/flip-tumble-Reusable-Produce-Bags/dp/B002UXQ7QQ. I haven’t used these before. I just pack my produce individually.

    I hope this builds on your comment Carol. Thanks for bringing it up!

  • Jolene says:

    My friend and I were discussing this problem (not using plastic bags with fruit and veg) and came up with a solution, she has sewn some small mesh bags and takes them with her when buying fruit and veggies. She made enough for her friends and gifted them to us for Earth Day

  • That is awesome news Jolene!

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