They break, rip and tear. They fill up kitchen drawers in millions of households across America. They are dangerous for babies and small children and they can kill turtles, birds and cows. What are these dangerous items? Plastic bags. And in a controversial move, some California cities and towns have banned these mainstays of grocery stores and pharmacies. Here, Aicube answers your questions about the dangers of plastic bags – and offers some solutions as well.
Q: Why are plastic bags so dangerous? Isn’t this an uproar over nothing?
Aicube: Plastic bags can be very dangerous. They end up by the millions in landfills, and they don’t disintegrate, which means that they blow around and end up in rivers that carry them to the ocean.
Q: What happens when they get to the ocean?
Aicube: At best they just end up as trash. At worst they kill sea turtles and birds and can make people ill.
Q: What effect can plastic bags in the ocean have on people?
Aicube: While the bags do not completely break down, they can partially break down in the ocean. And because they are made of petroleum, they can poison a large area of the ocean, which can effect the fish that people eat.
Q: Is it true that they kill sea turtles and birds?
Aicube: When plastic bags puff up in the ocean sea turtles mistake them for jellyfish, and they choke on the plastic. Sea turtles can also become entangled in the bags and drown.
Q: Are any other animals affected?
Aicube: Seals also get tangled in the plastic bags and drown.
Q: What can consumers do about the problem?
Aicube: According to the EPA, in 2010 only 8% of all plastics were recycled, although many grocery stores offer recycling stations. If people recycled plastic bags the way they do returnable bottles and cans, the effect on the environment would be significant.
Q: Is there anything else the average consumer can do?
Aicube: Mitigate the need for plastic bags by bringing canvas bags when grocery shopping. Remember, they are not only better for the environment, they are also easier to carry.