Why and How to Stop Using Plastic Bags

Why and How to Stop Using Plastic Bags

Celebrating International Plastic Bag Free Day 2024

By Alyssa Jairam

“Plastic bags pollute our lands, why are they seen in your hands?”

 

1.0 Taking Action for a Sustainable Future: Celebrating International Plastic Bag Free Day

Every year on 3rd July, the world observes International Plastic Bag Free Day which is dedicated to raising awareness about the environmental impacts of plastic bags and advocating for reducing their usage. As we celebrate International Plastic Bag Free Day 2024, the urgency to address the detrimental effects of plastic bags on our planet has never been clearer.

Figure 1: International Plastic Bag Free Day is observed on 3rd July, 2024 | Source: xpres.co.uk

 

2.0 The Problem of Plastic Bags

Plastic bags have become ubiquitous in our daily lives, but their convenience comes at a significant cost to the environment. According to recent statistics, approximately 500 billion plastic bags are utilized globally each year, and this number continues to increase despite growing awareness of their environmental impact (Smith, 2023). Plastic bags which are made from non-biodegradable materials, therefore pose a severe threat to wildlife and ecosystems worldwide.

 

3.0 Impacts of Plastic Bags on Wildlife and the Environment

The effects that plastic bags have on wildlife are devastating. Marine animals often mistake plastic bags for food, leading to ingestion and causing injury or death. Additionally, when plastic bags break down into smaller pieces, known as ‘microplastics’, they infiltrate the food chain, potentially harming organisms at every level, from plankton to larger marine mammals (Jones et al., 2022). On land, plastic bags contribute to littering and pose a threat to terrestrial animals that can become entangled or ingest them accidentally.

Figure 2: A turtle ingesting a plastic bag which was mistaken for a jellyfish, a turtle’s favourite meal. | Source: www.worldwildlife.org

 

Furthermore, the environmental footprint of plastic bag production is considerable, involving the extraction of fossil fuels, energy-intensive manufacturing processes and eventual disposal challenges. Despite efforts to recycle, a significant portion of plastic bags end up in landfills or as litter, where they persist for hundreds of years, perpetuating environmental harm (Greenpeace, 2023).

Figure 3: Eight reasons why you should not use plastic bags | Source: Gili Shark Conservation

 

4.0 What Can You Do To Become Plastic Bag Free?

Transitioning to a plastic bag-free lifestyle is a tangible way whereby individuals can contribute to environmental conservation. Here are some practical tips to reduce your plastic bag usage in your daily activities:

  • Bring Your Own Bag: Invest in reusable bags made from canvas, cotton or other sustainable materials when grocery shopping or running other errands.
  • Say ‘No’ to Single-Use Bags: Politely decline plastic bags when making purchases that can easily be carried without them.
  • Choose Alternatives: Opt for paper bags or biodegradable bags where available even though it is important to note that these options also have environmental implications. However, reducing overall consumption is preferable.
  • Spread Awareness: Educate your friends, family, co-workers, children and others about the negative impacts of plastic bags on wildlife and the environment and encourage them to adopt eco-friendly alternatives.

By making these simple changes, we can all significantly reduce our plastic footprint and contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment for future generations.

Figure 4: Say ‘No’ to plastic bags | Source: news18.com 

 

5.0 Conclusion

International Plastic Bag Free Day 2024 serves as a reminder of our collective responsibility to address the environmental challenges posed by plastic bags. With continued advocacy, awareness and personal commitment to reducing plastic waste, we can work towards a more sustainable future where our planet and wildlife can thrive without the burden of plastic pollution. As we celebrate this day, let us renew our efforts to make a positive impact and advocate for policies that promote environmentally-friendly practices worldwide.

“Be a Hero, Let Your Plastic Bag Use Be Zero!”

 

References

 

Curious about how Kenson Group is promoting a greener environment? Discover some of the key activities through our Carbon Net Zero Capability Portfolio here: https://bit.ly/3v5K9pk

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