…Plastic bags, while cheap and convenient, never biodegrade. Over time (sometimes a few years, sometimes thousands of years) they break into smaller and smaller particles, but they never break down into natural products that can re-enter the environment. These particles are toxic in both the soil and the water and can pass up the food chain from the smallest animals right up to humans.
…In the ocean, plastic bags are be mistaken for food by fish, birds, and sea mammals. More than a million animals a year die when they ingest or become entangled in plastic bags and other plastic refuse.
…Approximately a million plastic bags per minute are used across the globe. Many of these are tossed away and become a litter problem, accumulating along roadsides and in trees and bushes. In Ireland, plastic bags that catch in trees are called “witches’ knickers.” South Africans call them their “national flower.”
…The litter problem can even become life-threatening. In Bangladesh, plastic bags clogged drains and contributed to serious flooding. Bangladesh subsequently banned the use or sale of plastic bags.
…Plastic bags are made from petroleum and natural gas, nonrenewable resources which are becoming scarcer and more expensive. About 3 million barrels of oil are required to produce 19 billion plastic bags.
…Worldwide, 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used each year. While a few stores recycle plastic bags, only a few per cent of the total amount produced are recycled.