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It’s time to put those trendy tote bags we all know and love to good use!

As of October 1st, the city of Philadelphia implemented a plastic bag ban, prohibiting their use in all retail as well as some paper and other single-use bags that do not meet certain requirements.  Officials reported that Philadelphians use around one billion plastic bags every year, many of which become litter in the streets and waterways when they are not properly disposed of. The environmental impacts of plastic bags are detrimental and as such legislation had been in the works since 2019, but COVID-19 caused delays.

This plastic bag ban is not the first of its kind and certainly not the last, but we as citizens need to push for more widespread plastic bags and recognize the harm we are doing to the planet we call our home. Currently, only seven states have plastic bag bans, as well as various major cities across the country placing restrictions of their own. While as an individual you may feel that you use enough reusable bags, making more widespread legislation at a national level is the only thing that will create a lasting impact.

Grocery stores are the hub for plastic bag use and mandating reusable bags in them would be crucial to decreasing litter and environmental harm. Americans alone are using 100 billion plastic bags a year and statistics report that the average family can accumulate 60 plastic bags after only four trips to the grocery store. Not only are plastic bags harmful to the environment, but they are also overall poor quality and lack the strength to hold more than a few items, hence the need to use so many. So, if the bags are of such poor quality, there is no strong argument as to why we need to keep plastic bags.

Hopefully hearing that plastic bags take 500 years to decompose, while simultaneously leaking pollutants into soil and water is enough to encourage you to start buying and using more sustainable bags but if it isn’t…

Picking up plastic bags and litter costs tax money 

From an economic standpoint, plastic bags are not as beneficial as they seem. Just because they are cheaper from manufacturers, does not mean that overall, they are better. Tax money saved can be redirected to another area in need. Eliminating plastic bags have also proven to lower costs of goods since stores can lower their prices as they no longer need to factor plastic bag prices in. The bans can also create more job opportunities in reusable bag businesses!

Less plastic bags = less mosquitos and bugs! 

Littered bags collect rainwater and become breeding grounds for mosquitos and other unwanted pests, all of which can carry various diseases.

Save the marine animals!

Not only do plastic bags clog drainage systems and waterways, but they can also be confused as jellyfish in the ocean and eaten by animals like turtles. Fewer bags in the ocean can prevent more animals from becoming ill or dying.

Reusable bags are a necessity as we hurt our planet more and more with our societal habits. Now you have just another reason to use those Harry Styles concert tote bags you carry around like a purse, or the Vans bag they give you at the store when you feel too guilty to not donate, or the New Yorker tote they sent you when you subscribed (aka the whole reason you subscribed).

Advocate for plastic bag bans in your town or city, as we have learned that pushing at a local level can be a great way to start working your way up to state and maybe even national legislation. If our legislators want to promote saving our environment so much, plastic bag bans are a necessity.

Mara is a sophomore Journalism major as well as a Political Science minor, and also working on a certificate in Spanish at Temple University. She is from New Jersey and proud of it! She loves producing shows at school, going on big adventures, writing stories, and tacos! You can follow her instagram @mara.jt
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