The average time a person uses a plastic grocery bag is about 12 minutes.
After being tossed in the garbage, it makes its way to a dump or possibly the ocean, where it will slowly bio degrade for 500 years.
But the plastic never really goes away. It breaks down into tiny fragments called microplastics that can carry toxins and enter our bloodstreams.
If the world fails reduce its plastic consumption our oceans are in danger of degrading into a toxic plastic soup.
Kroger, America’s second-largest retailer, just took a huge step to reduce the country's plastic consumption.
On Thursday, August 23, the company announced it would stop providing plastic checkout bags to its customers by 2025.
“The plastic shopping bag’s days are numbered,” its CEO, Rodney McMullen, wrote in a USA Today op-ed.
Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for New York Times.
The company’s goal is to transition its customers over to using reusable shopping bags.
Kroger owns nearly 2,800 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia, including: Cala Foods, City FoodsCo, Fred Meyer Stores, Fry's, Metro Market, Pick 'n Save, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, and Smith's Food and Drug.
According to Kroger, the ban would eliminate 123 million pounds of garbage sent to landfills each year. This would quadruple the amount it currently saves through recycling.
“Our customers have told us it makes no sense to have so much plastic only to be used once before being discarded – And they’re exactly right,” McMullen wrote.
Kroger’s announcement comes at a time when state and local governments are considering legislation to either ban or protect plastic grocery bags.
California and Hawaii have banned single-use plastic grocery bags, while Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, and Wisconsin have enacted laws to prevent local governments from enacting bans.
Plastic bag facts:
- 100 billion plastic bags are used by Americans every year which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture. Tied together, they would reach around the Earth’s equator 773 times!
- Nearly 2 million single-use plastic bags are distributed worldwide every minute.
- The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.
- 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually.
Plastic bag bans have been proven to reduce plastic litter and ocean pollution.
A plastic bag tax levied in Ireland in 2002 has reportedly led to a 95% percent reduction in plastic bag litter in the country. In 2011, San Jose, California banned plastic bags, resulting in 89% percent reduction in bags found in the storm drains, 60% in the creeks and rivers, and 59% in city streets and neighborhoods.
The California ban, which took effect in late 2016, is already yielding positive results. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Plastic bags (both the banned and the legal variety) accounted for 3.1% of the litter collected from the state's beaches during the 2017 Coastal Cleanup Day, down from to 7.4% in 2010."
How you can help
Even if your local grocery store still hands out bags, you can reduce your own plastic consumption by bringing your own reusable one. Not only will you reduce your own waste, but you’ll be a good example to fellow shoppers and may cause them to rethink habits.