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Why You Should Ditch the Plastic and Use Reusable Bags

Worldwide, we use around a trillion single-use plastic bags each year. However, only a small percentage of those bags are ever properly recycled. Plastic bags cannot be recycled with other plastics, so oftentimes they are never recycled. 

Plastic bags get stuck in the machinery of recycling centers which frequently causes a delay in the recycling process. However, plastic bags are recyclable, as long as you send them to the right facilities

Plastic bags cause serious environmental danger. If not disposed of properly, plastic bags can cause litter and storm drain blockages. They can also cause serious harm to wildlife. Animals might get tangled in plastic bags and drown. The animal also might confuse the bag for food and eat it, causing suffocation, choking, starvation, or infection. Tens of thousands of marine animals die every year due to plastic bags. [bf_image id="q7jvvw-87vlk8-1fevux"]When they aren’t recycled, whether in landfills or the environment, plastic bags can take a thousand years to decompose. However, even then, they don’t break down completely. They become microplastics that continue to pollute the environment. These microplastics can contaminate soil, water, and the food web.  

The best way for us to lessen the environmental damages of plastic bags is to stop using them. Or at least consciously use less of them. When going shopping, the best thing to do is bring your own bags! Reusable bags are great, and can usually hold more items than the regular plastic bag. 

You can also choose to bag your things in paper bags! While paper bags don’t come without their own environmental baggage, their environmental impact is significantly lower than plastic bags. Plus, they are easily recyclable!  [bf_image id="4x5z5p48kj5b9b3tv3nmcn"] Whenever I go shopping, I try to bring my reusable bags with me or if I’m only buying a few things, I carry them out. It can be hard to remember to bring your bags to the store with you, but over time it does get easier. So, take that step and start removing plastic bags from your life. 

If you have a family like mine, you might have a million plastic bags saved at home ‘just in case.’ If you do, I would recommend recycling them at the proper facilities or make them into something new. Something I have been trying to make recently is plastic yarn or ‘plarn’. Basically, I’ve been cutting the bags into strips and making a ball of yarn out of it. I’m planning on making a tote bag, but there are so many things you can make of plastic yarn. 


Samantha Butts

U Mass Amherst '23

Samantha is a junior at UMass Amherst studying English and Journalism. She enjoys reading, fashion, watching movies, thrifting, and going out with friends. She is passionate about women's rights, the environment, and politics.
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