In some parts of the U.S., because plastic bags aren't being properly disposed of by consumers, people are forced to do their shopping without plastic bags.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has been collecting bags for more than a decade, only 2% of plastic bags are actually recycled in the United States. Reusable bags are a great alternative to typical grocery bags, and might become even more popular after various state legislation bans plastic bags in even more parts of the country.
"You have to accept what the law is," said Teresa Gonzalez, a California shopper who's dealing with bagless shopping already. "It's a little tough, but you learn as you go along that this is what we need to do. I think it's a good thing for the environment."
The Mercury News reports that the California law went into effect on December 16 and was put in place to reduce litter and ocean pollution. Grocery stores are encouraging shoppers to use and reuse reusable bags for their groceries, but recyclable shopping bags actually have more environmental benefits. Even better, recyclable shopping bags are more convenient for shoppers accustomed to plastic bags.
Meanwhile, the Pensacola News Journal states that some Florida politicians just filed a similar bill for the third time in an attempt to cut back on plastic grocery bag use.
"These plastic bags get thrown out on the street," said Rep. David Richardson. "They clog up our stormwater systems and result in slower drains."
Plastic bags account for 8.1% of all items found in landfills and coastal pileups, making them the fourth most frequently found item. These bags pose serious health hazards for marine animals because they are often mistaken as food.
Anywhere from 56 to 315 disposable plastic bags can be replaced by one single reusable bag. So retailers that use this type of grocery bag, whether they charge their customers for them or not, are doing wonders for the environment by cutting down litter and ocean pollution.
It's important that consumers and retailers alike take the preservation of the environment seriously. Throwing plastic bags into the garbage does not help at all, which is why it's so important to use reusable products. Fortunately, many retailers are now investing in wholesale recycled shopping bags for their customers, even if plastic bag bans haven't gone into effect in their area yet.