Bye Bye Bags

Plastic bags that is!

Do you know how many plastic bags are in the world?
What about how many are thrown out every day?
How are plastic bags disposed of?
Can they be recycled?
Where do they end up??

Most of us don't think about these questions when we are at the check out paying for our groceries or those really cute shoes that were finally on the 40% off sale.  We just want to get out of the busy store and head home (or head to the next major deal!).  But when you start to think about these questions, and when you hear the answers, you might think twice the next time you ask for that 5p plastic bag.

Plastic bag production increases by the second -- as of 12:57 PM on November 15th, there have been 4,363,528,158,946 made worldwide so far this year.  That is enough to go around the world seven times EVERY HOUR.  According to research, the average European goes through 500 plastic bags a year, but get this -- each bag is only used for about 20 minutes.  So what happens after that?

Well, only 1-3% of all plastic bags across the world are recycled, and the remaining 97-99% end up in water sources, land fills, and strewn across roadsides. 

Science time!  Most of these single use plastic bags are not built with breakdown in mind.  In fact, the majority of bags will take nearly 1,000 years to degrade!  What's more, plastic bags are not biodegradable, but are photodegradable.  Let me explain: if something biodegrades, it can be broken down quickly by living things (bacteria and fungus).  If something photodegrades, it slowly breaks down into smaller parts, but those smaller parts are toxic.  And then those smaller toxic parts contaminate the soil, the water, and eventually animals (and us).

That plastic bag given out by the cashier is unfortunately most likely going to end up as litter, and if it gets to the ocean, it will become part of a statistic: 80% of the ocean's litter is plastic.  All this floating toxic garbage has some serious consequences for the creatures that live in the sea.  Over 1 million die because of plastic bags every year.  And they don't just get sick -- they suffer. The plastic bag gets tangled in the animal's organs and slowly chokes them, while also poisoning them. 

Still not convinced? Have a quick watch of this mocumentary that follows the life of a plastic bag:

So what can you do to help?  Use one of the thousands of reusable bags on offer!  You can choose what style and material of bag you want, and they have so many options for designs and colours.  If you are a fan of Gilmore Girls, you can find an awesome canvas reusable tote that is perfect for carrying heavier shopping, or if you love Alice in Wonderland you can grab a mini cotton tote.  The possibilities are limitless, and what's more, you won't be contributing to the waste epidemic.

I recently put out a poll on Facebook asking if people used reusables in lieu of plastic, and the response I got was generally pretty positive.  Out of 259 responses, only seven reported to never use a reusable bag.  The other 252 expressed a consistent effort to utilize options other than plastic!  Even better, their explanations in comments showed an overwhelming majority switched due to the new regulations brought in by the government.  These 'taxes' on plastic use have actually had an observable effect!  Now if only the laws could encompass other single use plastics.

Do you have any other questions about plastic bags?  Curious about the hard facts?  Let me know down in the comments!  Or, better yet, show me your favourite reusable bag!  These are some of mine:


Blogger Note: Every product mentioned in all of my posts are purchased with my own money, are gifts from friends or family, or were won in public competitions unless otherwise stated.  However, my posts may contain affiliate links. This will never change my approach to my reviews, nor will it influence how I represent the products I am writing about, as I only choose to represent or work with brands and companies that I 100% respect and trust.


  1. Everything made from plastic can be made out of hemp so we need to move toward a hemp-based economy and fast.

  2. Some scary figures there. I thought I was ding well with better buying choices and recycling but there is always room for improvement. I am not buying any more products with waterproof coating as I have just discovered the chemical load in their manufacture.


Share your thoughts!