Recycle Your Plastic Bags...Or Better Yet, Use Cloth
It's not yet posted on their web site, but the July 2007 print version of the "Southern Sierran" from the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, has a story about the number of plastic bags that humans use every year and the damage they are causing to the environment. Did you know that Californians alone use over 19 billion (yes, billion) plastic grocery bags every year? Think of your last visit to the beach or a hiking trail...there's a good chance that you saw a plastic bag sitting around. Not only are the bags a big problem in our landfills (according to the article, CA's plastic bags account for 147,038 tons of waste/year), but they also pose a severe threat to wildlife, especially marine life. When plastic bags, large or small, end up in the ocean, they can often be mistaken for food. A white or transparent bag can easily be mistaken for a jellyfish or a squid. When an animal ingests the plastic, death will be the likely result. The article says that the U.S. EPA estimates that "marine debris has had a negative impact on at least 267 species around the world." It also mentions the juvenile minke whale that was found dead on the shores of France in 2002. About two pounds of plastic packaging and plastic grocery bags were found in its stomach, which researchers believe were the cause of its death. We can all do our part to help this problem by taking our plastic bags back to the grocery store for recycling, or by using re-usable bags and not taking the plastic bags in the first place. And next time you see plastic of any sort when you're out enjoying nature, especially at the beach, take a moment to pick it up and dispose of it properly...it just may save the life of the marine wildlife in the area.