PhotoVoice: Plastic Bags

Bags have been around the United States since 1979, the United States alone uses 30 billion bags annually. To hit a little close to home Washingtonians, use more than 2 billion single use plastic bags each year. Seattle alone uses 292 million annually and only 13% are recycled (O’Brian, 2017).

Each individual averages about 350 to 500 plastic bags annually (Malissa).

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This individual is wearing 500 bags; this gives you an idea on how much each individual in the United States uses plastic bags annually. At first, hearing that an individual uses 350 to 500 bags, you don’t really think much but when you actually see it it’s shocking. You start to imagine all the times you have gone to the grocery stores and start to think about the amount of bags you leave with afterward. All those bags are roaming around our environment affects our health and ecosystem. We might go to the store and say “it’s only one bag it won’t do much” but all those “one bag” adds up. Since the day I took that photo I think of all the plastic bags that I have used and that I need to reduce the amount of bags that I use.

So if only a few plastic bags are being recycled, where are the rest of the plastic bags going?

They tend to end up in landfills, trees, ocean, in the forest and in your home.

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I set up the bags this way because it reminds me of my mother’s Heartleaf Philodendron. It is extremely easy to grow just like the pile of bags my parents consume on a weekly basis. They seem to look very harmless like the plant but don’t let that fool you.

All these plastic bags roaming around are not healthy for us and for the environment. Depending on where the plastic bags are they can break down into smaller pieces. When they do break down they are not gone. The smaller pieces that remain are hazardous, they are then consumed by shellfish, fish, turtles, marine mammals, and birds, dogs, and so on. In 2010 a beached gray whale was found to have 20 plastic bags in its stomach (O’Brian, 2017).

From what you read you see that bags are appearing randomly in different areas and millions being used daily. Numbers will continue to increase if something is not being done. Fortunately, we have alternatives.

To reduce the usage of plastic bags, reusable bags are now being produced to replace plastic bags. They are strong, cheap, and last longer. You will reduce the amount of bags and have a cleaner environment. Some stores will reward you for bringing in reusable bags (KCL, 2014). Recycling plastic bags is another choice that you have.

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For those who want to start using reusable bags but don’t know what to do with the plastic bags that they have, a good way to get rid of them is by returning them to these locations. If it wasn’t for me taking this photo I would have not been aware that these stores participate in recycling plastic bags. For someone to complete a project like this, it will allow them to see how beneficial it is for them to reduce the amount of plastic bags and they will see that any little change they do, they will help the environment and improve their health.

KCL. (2014, July 20). 8 Retailers That Reward You for Bringing Your Own Bags! Retrieved July 20, 2017, from http://thekrazycouponlady.com/tips/finance/earn-shop-8-retailers-reward-bringing-bags

Malissa L. (n.d.). Retrieved July 25, 2017, from https://www.reusethisbag.com/25-reasons-to-go-reusable.php

O’Brian, M. (2017). Plastic Bag Ban. Retrieved July 24, 2017, from https://www.seattle.gov/council/meet-the-council/mike-obrien/plastic-bag-ban

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