Everyday Green Tips

Ban the single-use plastic bag

Around the country and around the world, from Aspen, Colorado to Seattle, Washington to Delhi, India, communities are making a choice and banning single-use plastic grocery bags. Reducing these single-use items can decrease our resource consumption and energy use. In 2009, the United States used 102 billion plastic bags, an enormous amount of fossil fuel resources were required to make those bags which consume extravagant amounts of energy and resource to produce.

Such a simple thing as not using plastic bags when you grocery shop and use reusable bags instead can make an impact not only locally but also globally.


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Similar Ideas [ 4 ]


  1. The idea was posted


  1. Comment

    its so true and even if we aren't able to influence everyone of use reusable bags, the least we can do is to have recycling boxes for used plastic bags! around 2 or 3 years ago i began seeing those boxes but not it seems like they have disappeared

  2. Comment
    John Mellow

    From recollection PA Representative Daylin Leach introduced legislation on a small tax per bag. This was small amount in pennies but would urge more people to remember to take their personal bags in stores. I had only heard about this secondhand but it seemed very logical and was a small amount that would not be bad on already rising personal budget costs of food and possibly provide some minor funding to environmental programs.

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment
      Starla Titterington

      This seems appropriate for establishing the social norm and yet the bags are provided to encourage the customer to shop, as an amenity. I wonder why industry is not charged per bag when manufacturing or what happened to the idea of disposable bags made of corn oil?

  3. Comment
    Jessica Orquina
    ( Moderator )

    In Washington, DC there is a five cent tax on plastic and paper bags at grocery stores. The proceeds from this tax are used to clean up the Anacostia River here in DC. I think this is a great idea because it motivates people to bring reusable bags and if they don't remember it raises money to clean up the local environment!

  4. Comment

    Locally, Price Rite sells very nice big sturdy plastic bags and does NOT give any bags away. Stop ans Shop counts bringing in your own bag for your groceries as a five cent coupon off your total order for as many bags as it reasonably takes to bag your grocies. Both are examples of local franchises of stores voluntarily doing something about bags for the green bragging rights. With this much help from local merchants, I can't see that a tax on single use plastic bags is really needed.

  5. Comment

    Though I understand the motive, I feel that it would be better to pay people a wage to clean then up, while also creating better disposal practices, like creating a waste management system for the open oceans, while passing laws making the dumping of garbage into the open waters illegal.

  6. Comment

    Banning the plastic bag would not only hurt industry, but also the consumer. Let's face it: Plastic bags are cheap. Adding a tax or forcing companies to purchase more expensive bags would drive up prices and decrease profits no matter how small the increase in price.

    As consumers, we can reuse them (I know I do!) for many differnt things: picking up garbage around our homes and neighborhoods, cleaning up dog waste, packing for trips, school projects, and many other things.

    Waste management could possibly set out recycle bins like they do at some Wal-Marts for people to collect plastic bags and then recycle them.

    There is no need for a ban.

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment
      Community Member

      I reuse plastic bags when I accidently get them, but even after many creative reuses, they still need to be discarded. Discarded plastic bags never disappear, they only change form. Little bits of plastic debris are an ecological problem. The planet's long-term health is more important than short-term industry and consumer benefits.

    2. Comment
      Community Member

      Unfortunately the majority of the American public isn't as enlightened as you therefore many people will continue to use plastic bags, thus continuing the over use of fossil fuels. Not having plastic bags isn't going to decrease profit, what can't Americans be held accountable for anything, why can't we be responsible and please don't tell me we should have the freedom to be ignorant and closed minded about the issues because at the end of the day that is exactly what it is, ignorance. Stop using the scare tactics like profits will decrease and the president going to take your guns away if he can take your plastic bags away. Americans are like a bunch of spoiled kids, we need to grow up!

    3. Comment
      Starla Titterington

      There is a need to replace plastic bags, single use grocery bags and household trash, even bio-hazard. It is time for industry to experiment. Plastic does not have to be our only option, but biodegradable does.

  7. Comment

    Provide dis-incentive; many stores give 2-.10cents for bringing one's own bags- make people pay for plastic bags and make sure these funds go to providing consumers with low cost reusable bags.

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment
      Starla Titterington

      I love that the store with pay the customer to remember. The burden should be on the merchant and the power of their dollar not ours.

  8. Comment

    I think that charging for plastic bags is the best option. They do that in many European markets and I think it helps in getting people to bring non disposable bags. Plastic really does hurt the environment and I recently saw a great music video that touched on many statistics including the affect of plastic usage. It's a Serj Tankian video for his single "Harakiri" It's great seeing celebrities actively promoting environmental, social, and political causes! His entire album "Harakiri" is a commentary on society and the environment and it's only $4 on amazon today!

  9. Comment

    I work at EPA in the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, and part of our mission is to promote resource conservation and recycling.

    Ljgurley is on the right track; resuable bags are the better choice when shopping. There has been much debate on which is better for the environment, paper or plastic, and the answer is neither. By choosing reusable bags over paper or plastic bags, you're conserving resources and preventing pollution.

    EPA doesn't have the authority to ban plastic bags across the country, but as Ljgurley mentioned, many state governments are looking at what works in their area.

    You can find out more about the impact of plastic bags and other types of trash on marine life here: http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/marinedebris/md_impacts.cfm

  10. Comment
    Starla Titterington

    What about household garbage bags? Consumers are dependent at this stage and to time to socially adjust. NEED: a eco grocery bag that doubles as household garbage bags/ and decomp in the landfill. Then a 5cent charge/per bag (tax free) would float cost from the market and offset the consumer while instituting a balanced social norm. Balance is important in this race.

  11. Comment
    Community Member

    I don't think all Americans will jump on the band wagon for the banning of single use bags, just like they probably won't jump on the band wagon to ban the single use plastic bottle. Not trying to be disagreeable, I just know how most Americans are.

    However, there is a way to stop the plastic bags and plastic bottles of America from being one use. Since, for the most part they are not recycleable, there is a process where they can be reused to make energy. The process is known as "Thermal Depolymerization".

    Thermal Depolymerization is a process that takes long chain hydrocarbons, such as plastics, and converts them into three different short chain hydrocarbons, one is a solid that can be used as fertilizer, one is a liquid that can be used as fuel for a properly modified engine, and the other is a gas that can be used to power the Thermal Depolymerization process.

    If you find this interesting, look it up on Wikipedia, Google it, or go to your local library to find out more.

    Once you've done this, drop a line to your local government officials and make sure they know that there is a way to take plastics out of our landfills.

    Oh yeah, the process can also be adjusted to work on any other hydrocarbons. That includes just about any nonmetal or mineral substance, including organics and paper.

    Please check this out and pass the word on.

  12. Comment

    I believe the "Thermal Depolymerization" Community Member refers to is also called "everything to oil" and looks and works like a miniature oil refinery, using heat and pressure to break what is put into it into a variety of products including: something like pulverized coal without the heavy metals if raw material was very high in carbon, something like crude oil, high temperature (600-700F) steam or water, assorted minerals [which need to be further separated to separate the minerals suitable to use as fertilizer in a vegetable garden and minerals that are toxic like heavy metals and even excesses of trace minerals like selenium.

  13. Comment

    Here in Ireland there is a charge of 22 cent per plastic bag. This levy was introduced nationwide in 2002. The use of plastic bags has fallen dramatically. The levy is paid into an environmental fund to finance waste management. People were not given a choice/vote on the decision to tax plastic bags and it was generally accepted as a way of life.I think this is the only way to implement change, sometimes we have to have our choices limited to sustain our Planet and the only way is to make it the law.

  14. Comment
    EB Foster

    To wean ourselves, A deposit charged at checkout would help motivate using a heavier reusable version, prior to an outright ban.

  15. Comment
    Rebekah Sorbo

    I like the idea of charging people to use plastic bags. It would definitely get me to remember to bring my canvas totes instead! P.S I am an American, one of the so-called few enlightened and unspoiled of us, I guess. I can't say I really agree with the theories that a plastic bag ban would hurt the industry or that we simply wouldn't go for it because "the majority of us are ignorant". There has been so much exposure in regards to the dangers to us and our environment (Dr. Oz or Oprah, anyone?) that anyone who remains ignorant of the state of things anymore must be living under a rock. No, I would not say that we're ignorant. Lazy and selfish, yes, for ignoring the truth of such matters because we have gotten too comfortable with our current way of living. But ignorant, definitely not! So, yes. I believe that it's high-time for Americans to be held accountable for our actions. We have been riding on the coattails of other countries for far too long. It's time to get with the program, America!

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