Why are plastic bags bad?

+49 votes
asked Jun 7, 2015 in Science by Samantha (670 points)
People tell me all the time that I should "go green" and use reusable cloth bags when I go grocery shopping. They tell me plastic is bad for the environment but I have yet to have one of them tell me exactly why. So what exactly do plastic bags do to harm the environment?

2 Answers

+17 votes
answered Jun 11, 2015 by Tyler (790 points)

There are several factors that make plastic bags bad:

  • Plastic can never break completely down. Unlike paper, which is natural and will rot (therefore actually "feed" the environment), plastic will forever be part of the world. Plastic is made created from man-made products and produced with horrible chemicals. Even bags that have been made from recycled materials (and only usually a portion of "recycled" materials are actually used) take a ton of energy to make, therefore, still taking from our precious energy sources. Reducing, or even eliminating, plastic is a much better solution.
  • Plastic, as I said earlier, are a man-made pollution. They are not only toxic in manufacturing, they are toxic when they "break down" into its plastic "powder." So many toxins including BPA and phthalates. As they are "breaking down", plastics are likely to absorb other dangerous toxins especially pesticides. When they absorb these pesticides, they become entrapped in the plastic powder and can end up anywhere!
  • Petroleum is a highly used resource in our modern day lives but the production of plastics uses so much petroleum unnecessarily. Approximately 5% of our petroleum use is used in the production of plastic! We already know that gasoline (made from petroleum) is becoming very harmful to our environment; adding another unnecessary process for this petroleum only furthers the harm this substance does to our land, water, and air!
+9 votes
answered Jun 9, 2015 by Henk (950 points)
The answer to the question, "Why are plastic bags bad?" is quite simple: Plastics cannot completely break down. They are not biodegradable. This includes plastic bags! Plastic bags are constantly polluting our world, from the litter of the whole bag on land to the tiny particles it becomes (which pollute everywhere, including the air and water).

Plastic bags are so bad for wildlife. They pose a potential choking, strangling, and entangling hazard.

As much petroleum that it takes to make plastic bags, more people could be using it for heat or gasoline. Plastic bags are not only a nuisance and a hazard… They are unnecessary!
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