Every year, one trillion bags are used, equating to 2 million per minute.
Did the number shock you? If so, good – the change has to start with you. Whenever you are in the store, ask yourself: “Do I really need this bag?”.
I know what you are thinking: “I do not use that much plastic!“, or you might even doubt whether you alone are able to change anything, but the fact is that our world is getting destroyed because of plastic, and even the smallest contribution from you (e.g. bringing your own bag when shopping) means a lot in the long run. A simple bag may look innocent enough, but is 10 to 1000 years of decomposition truly worth the 10 to 20 minutes of its use, of the time it takes you to bring the products from the store to your home, then throwing the bag away, never thinking about it again?
During my recent trip in Lisbon, I came across this problem: too much plastic bags! My curiosity led me to do a brief research about it, and I realized that the use of plastic bags in Portugal is especially high, as there are two billion bags used each year, many of which “end up littering the land and polluting the sea”. Back in February 2015, Portugal had one of the Europe’s worst rates of plastic pollution, as each inhabitant used on average 466 bags per year. About 94% of all birds worldwide have plastic in their stomachs, as well as other animals, many of whom are endangered species, and at least 267 different species of animals have suffered as a result of ingestion of or entanglement with plastic. However, not to be too critical of Portugal: they are on the right track to help the planet. Ever since the introduction of a government tax on the use of plastic bags, their use has plummeted more than 90%.
There are so many small things each person can do to reduce the use of plastic bags: next time you go shopping, remember to bring your own bag; when buying fruits/vegetables try to avoid putting different kinds of produce into separate bags – instead, use only one bag for all of them combined, or better, do not use a bag at all – vegetables taste better out of plastic, anyway. Remember: small steps lead to big changes. Let us make this beautiful planet we call Earth plastic-free again.