Would you pay for plastic bags to preserve our planet?
Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 12:07
In northern Califonia, Walmart charges for plastic bags in attempt to reduce plastic waste. Many costumers were upset after hearing that Walmart would start charging any where from 15 cents to 50 cents for plastic bags.
One shopper made a remark about the change, "They already make enough money, this is just another form of greed." Another shopper said, "Now it's just another store I will not be shopping at."
Although it may come as a shock to many consumers, it is all part of Walmart's plan to cut plastic bag waste by 2013.
"If we can encourage consumers to change their behavior, just one bag at a time, we believe real progress can be made toward our goal of creating zero waste," said Matt Kistler, senior vice president for sustainability at Walmart. As a country we are falling behind the rest of the world in our efforts to reduce waste caused by plastic bags.
According to BBC news, a tax on plastic shopping bags in Ireland has cut their use by more than 90 percent in 2002. This tax also created 3.5 million euros allotted for environmental projects.
What most people don't understand is that recycling plastic bags does not cut waste alone, and in reality most people have no idea where all the plastic they use really goes.
Many marine biologists call the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, "an enormous stew of trash consisting of 80 percent plastics and in now double the size of Texas," said Markus Erikens, director of research and education at the Algalita Marine Research Fondation.
Eriksen, who has been monitoring the garbage patch for 10 years now said, "It floats where few people ever travel, in a no-man's land between San Francisco and Hawaii."
"At this point cleaning up isn't an option," said Chris Parry, pubic educa-tion program manager with the California Coastal Commission, " It's just going to get bigger as our reliance on plastics continues. The long -term solution is to stop producing as much plastic products at home and change our consumption habits."
As Walmart is the world's largest retailer the plan is expected to cut the equivalent of 9 billion plastic bags from stores each year and eliminate more than 135 pounds of plastic waste globally in the next five years.
While this is the first step to start a movement reducing plastic bags the movement needs to spread much farther than northern Calfiornia to be affective. According to Reuters, countries such as Rwanda and Bangladesh have introduced plastic bag bans nation wide, while Italy is going to introduce a ban this year.
Not only do plastic bags kill approximately 1 billion mammals and seabirds each year, but as the polyethylene breaks down, substances leach into the soil and enter our food chain.
Walmart has taken the first step to push this country towards a plastic free solution, but there are many things the everyday student can also do to help stop the enormous consumption of plastic bags being used in the US.
Ways you can help
* Most everyone I know has a drawer or shelf full of plastic grocery store bags. If you are not using them, recycle them. Publix and Wal-Mart both have plastic bag recycling centers outside their stores.
* Bring your own reusable cloth bags to the store to carry home your groceries. If you're like me, you have lots of cloth bags at home that mostly sit around unused.
* Buy a few cloth bags for all of your shopping. You can even put your own flare on them, most stores offer many different colors and styles.