Why All The Plastic Bags?

I ask because it is obvious. On the wall of our kitchen hangs an unused cell phone. From the base of that very phone extends a rubber antenna – approximately 6″ in length – holding, by my guess, 1,455 plastic bags. Tan ones, white & gray ones, foreign & domestic, alien, …shall I go on, or is my sarcasm obvious? These very flexible pains in my a** multiply at a rate faster than bunnies on steroids. And, for clarity, I am responsible. Three more were added today to this ever increasing, bulging clump of pliable sacks.

At some unfortunate point in the future, there will be no more. Oh, just no more room on the the antenna, not plastic bags (they’ll keep coming). I figure there is about one-half inch left – at best – at the top before an end will be reached. Then what? Find another out-of-date phone to hang on the wall and start a sequel? Try, maybe “try”, to smoosh down the already tired bags to make room at the top. Me don’t think so, because I’ve finger-trash compacted the bags so much they’ve begged for pardons numerous times already. The antenna inmates have suffered enough.

My only solution is a bigger plastic bag. A step-up. A dorm room to an efficiency, as it were. Better yet, an individual cell to a common area, since I’m on that string of thought. The better move here is letting all these bags off the hook by dumping them, gently, into another, … err, larger plastic bag. Jeez. Where does it end? I then have a 5-gallon capacity plastic trash bag partially full with 1,455 smaller plastic bags … Good news, I guess for the 2,344 MORE bags I undoubtedly will be toting through the front door in weeks to come. At least the unused phone on the wall can take a breather …

Why all the plastic bags? Again, I ask because it is obvious. Let’s go back to plastic in general with the help of http://www.tecnofer.biz

The “years of plastic” began officially the 11th March 1954, when Giulio Natta, future Nobel Prize for Chemistry (in 1963), wrote in his diary: «Made the polypropylene». The new product, later called “Moplen”, was used for producing everything: from dishes to car components to bowls and toys.

Now, to our little baggie friends: http://www.allaboutbags.ca

Plastic bags were invented as an alternative to paper grocery bags in the late 1970s to protect trees and prevent clear-cutting of our forests. Plastic bags are a by-product of natural gas extraction and provide an environmental solution to the burn off of this gas during the refining process.

Easy, simple summaries because I’m not currently in a Doctoral research program at Harvard and have a ridiculously fantastic Chicken Tetrazzini dinner to consume before it gets cold. I’ve accumulated (all sarcasm aside) probably 25 bags in a week … low estimate. Fifty since the stay-at-home mandate started two weeks ago. Let’s go with a 25/week average for this household x 50 weeks – with two off for no reason = 1,250 bags / year.

This is one household with minimal needs. For argument’s sake, I’ll up the numbers to better represent what I feel America is doing. I’m going to do this first without googling the actual numbers. After thumb-crunching my way through, I will exit out, go to google, and then re-visit this entry.

So here’s my baseline: Average household consumes 50 plastic bags a week between groceries, household needs, and entertainment. Out of the 325 million people, an average household of 3.5 people means there are roughly 90 million households +/-. 50 bags per week is an annual household usage of 2,500 bags. Again, 2 weeks off for no reason.

90,000,000 Households x 2,500 bags = 225,000,000,000 bags per year. That’s 225 Trillion plastic bags PER YEAR.

Give me a few seconds to check out Google. Be right back.

In The United States

  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.
  • According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. (Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion).
  • Four out of five grocery bags in the U.S. are now plastic.
  • The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store.

160,000 plastic bags a second (www.theworldcounts.com)

This year 5 trillion plastic bags will be consumed. That’s 160,000 a second! Put one after another they would go around the world 7 times every hour and cover an area twice the size of France.

OK. So, I was way off. Glad to know my estimates were laughingly off-the charts. Possibly the number of households? … bags per household? Again, not doing Nobel-winning research here. For our sake, thankfully, my numbers are high. Too bad the real numbers are high as well, though.

Back to my kitchen…and the clod. Its gotta go somewhere. I have little patience anymore for the little tip of rubber exposed at the end. WHY all the plastic bags? I am at fault. We have reusable totes that could be reused. Thus, the moniker so forcefully emblazoned on the side! Jimminy Be-Jeepers it isn’t that complicated! Laziness begets more plastic. Ugh.

This is why all the plastic bags. I’m lazy.

Not too lazy, mind you, to spend an hour writing about it. Just too slothful to take a few seconds, when heading out the door for snacks and essentials, and grab a reusable, green tote.

Life is complicated in other areas. This shouldn’t be one of them. I hear my phone – should answer it. Not the one on the wall, though. It is otherwise occupied.

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