Pick up your bag for life and leave plastic bags behind this Monday (3rd July 2017) – it is International Plastic Bag Free Day.
The problem with plastic bags
Plastic bags are common place in our supermarkets and shops, but have you ever wondered what happens once they leave filled with shopping? Some are reused, some collect in our cupboards and are repurposed as rubbish bags, but many go on to become litter.
Plastic bags are light and make excellent kites, so once free they get picked up by the wind and end up all over the place, littering our towns and cities, our countryside, our rivers and lakes and our beaches and oceans. But other than looking a little unsightly, what impact are they actually having on our animals and our environment? And I mean aside from the huge amounts of energy they require to manufacture, transport and recycle.
Plastic bags: the non-biodegradable snack
Plastic bags are non-biodegradable, meaning they are not broken down naturally by bacteria and living organisms. This means that once in the environment, they tend to stick around, only breaking down into smaller pieces. What’s more, over time they release harmful chemicals into the environment which can enter our waterways and work their way up the food chain.
Plastic bag or dinner? This may seem an easy distinction to make, but for some animals it can be a challenge. Sea turtles, for example, are known to mistake plastic bags for their favoured prey, the jellyfish. But they are not alone, terrestrial and marine animals all over the world have bellies full of plastic, but it is not an overly healthy or nutritious diet. Plastic can block the digestive system and prevent animals from eating their real food, which will eventually lead to health problems and death.
Plastic bags: the not so fashionable accessory
Those that don’t become dinner, pose a different kind of threat to animals – the risk of becoming tangled. Getting caught up in a free-floating plastic bag is stressful for any animal that will use a lot of energy trying to escape. But, as well as putting them at risk of strangulation, suffocation and death, plastic bags can hinder animals ability to go about their daily lives, whether by preventing them from catching and eating prey, or reducing their ability to escape predators.
How can I be more AnimalKind?
With plastic bags, it is simple – reduce, reuse, recycle. Reduce the number of plastic bags you use when you shop, reuse the ones you do take and dispose of those you no longer want responsibly.
Want to know how else you live an Animalkind lifestyle? See the AnimalKind section of our website for some great ideas.