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Eco Minute: January 27, 2015

Jem Sullivan

When you do your shopping bring along your own cloth or other type of reusable bag.  The average American family uses 900 plastic shopping bags a year.  That adds up to 100 billion bags consumed in the United States annually.  It takes 504 million gallons of oil to make all of these bags.  

They end up being a waste of our nonrenewable oil resources, a source of litter, costing cities millions to clean up, and a hazard to wildlife and marine creatures that confuse them for food.  In addition, 99% of the bags are not recycled and will take as much as 1000 years to break down.  Of the EPA’s list of 20 chemicals whose production generates the most hazardous waste, 5 of the top 6 were chemicals commonly used by the plastic industry.  If the annual US consumption of plastic bags were tied together in a giant chain, it would circle the Earth 760 times!