Plastic Bags: The Environment's Deadly Predator

Evan Lewis, an 11-year-old environmental activitist, is a member of Kids Eco Club of the National Youth Green Council.

Plastic bags. Oh, they are such a helpful resource in our society. But are they really worth it?

Are they really worth killing animals, overflowing our landfills and polluting our environment?

Every man, woman and child on our planet uses more than 100 bags a year. That may not seem like a lot, but we use over 3 trillion plastic bags every year worldwide: 3,000,000,000,000! That is 12 zeros. And only 1% are recycled.

Have you ever thought how much they can damage our environment? More than you may realize. Many people go through their daily lives not knowing or noticing their impact on the environment.

There are many reasons why plastic bags shouldn’t be used:

  • They kill over 100,000 marine animals each year, mainly the sea turtles. But they don’t kill only marine animals. They kill land animals, too, such as the thousands of birds that swallow them and die.
  • They take over 400 years to biodegrade! That  means your children’s children’s children will still have the burden of the same plastic bag you used today.
  • Did you know that the plastic bag was first used in 1957? If you do the math, not one plastic bag has ever completely biodegraded. Have you heard of all of the chemicals in plastic bags? As the bags start to break down, the chemicals enter the soil and our drinking water, which can be very harmful to all animals including humans.
  • Over 267 marine species are killed just from plastic debris in the ocean!
  • Have you heard of the North Pacific Gyre that is floating across the Pacific Ocean? This Patch is larger than the size of Texas. The funny thing is that this patch was not even there until plastic was invented. The patch is mainly made of plastic debris and trash that has washed out into the ocean. This plastic can be very harmful if a marine animal or a bird becomes entangled in it and drowns or swallows it. The plastic breaks down and releases toxins into the water.

All of these very startling facts have motivated me to take action and try to help change our damaging use of plastics. Now, how can one person make a difference? How did I take action on this important and harmful issue? My first step was to start small by having my family stop using plastic water bottles and plastic bags. Next, I started to make kids at my school aware of this issue with presentations in our classrooms and what they can do to help. Also, to help them with the cause, I gave them reusable recyclable bags to bring lunch in or to use at the store. I saw many different people at my school using them for lunch carriers or just to hold things.

Next,  I wrote an article called “The Problem With Plastic Bags”  for our school newspaper. Soon after, it got published in a magazine called San Diego Earth Times. Although I don’t know how many people read this, hopefully it is a lot. Think about it, San Diego has 1.37 million people. Since the average American uses 500 plastic bags, this area alone uses about 6.85 billion plastic bags every year! This has to stop so I started a petition to ban plastic bags in San Diego. Solana Beach and L.A have recently done it, so why can’t we join together and do the same?

Please help us in the act against this damaging threat to our environment by signing this petition and banning their use!