Environmental Justice & Sustainability

Plastic Bags: The Urban Tumbleweed

Thank You (for polluting the environment)! [Source]
Take a walk down any New York City street on a breezy day and you are bound to see a plastic bag or two drift by your feet. They are such a common sight in major cities that the people are desensitized to this phenomenon; so common, that they are equated to the naturally occurring tumbleweeds of the Midwest. But there is nothing natural about these non-biodegradable monstrosities; by normalizing plastic bags, we ignore the effects they have on our environment. So for my environmentally conscious effort this semester, I chose to switch to reusable grocery bags.

Going into this change, I thought about all the plastic grocery bags I have piled up in my closet. My local store double bags, and for each trip I take home an average of four bags- eight total per week. Multiple that by 52, and I average 416 bags a year (give or take a dozen)! While they do get reused for garbage bags, there is no way I could ever reuse all of them in my lifetime. Reusable bags sounded like the right route to helping the planet. I would be cutting down on my carbon footprint , which felt good. One person can make a difference, right?

But, as it turns out, simply switching to reusable bags is not the only decision I had to make. After some research on the positive effects of reusable bags, I learned that there are all different kinds that vary in their effectiveness. According to an NPR article, “How Green Are Reusable Bags?”, not all reusable bags are created equal. Cloth bags are more environmentally friendly than the plastic ones, and the recycled plastic ones are better than the bags made with new plastic.

This habit is definitely hard to maintain, because as creatures of habit it is always hard to start something new. I constantly forget to bring my reusable bags if I am in a hurry or stop at the store after school instead of going home first. Honestly, I am not so sure that I will be able to maintain this habit, but I will do my best to keep it up. The early Americans did not worry about their effects on the environment, and look where we are now. But fifty years from now, the environmental sustainability crisis will (hopefully) just be a chapter in a child’s history textbook, if we work hard to fix things now.


7 thoughts on “Plastic Bags: The Urban Tumbleweed

  1. Trying out the reusable bag strategy was something I try to do for myself and my family as well. Although it seems like a fine way to cut down on plastic bag usage, I ran into the same problem as you. I don’t always have a reusable canvas bag on me when I go to the store, especially if I’ve just stopped in on the way home from school, or on the way to someone’s house. This happens far more frequently than me just going to the store from home, which means many times I’m forced to use the plastic bags. I honestly think I might start carrying a small canvas tote with me, for just those occasions!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Growing up I have always used plastic bags and put on into another so I can obviously reuse them but knowing that others are beginning to realize how much more convenient it is when doing so makes me more hopeful for the future. And as long as others begin to realize that life is very precious and that not only do we need to take care of ourselves but mother nature too then we can all appreciate the society that we have all come to know and hopefully love.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was immediately hooked by your title and I really like how clever your caption is. This was concise and I liked how you mentioned the difficulties in maintaining a “good” habit, especially as an American. I like how you mentioned the variety in how to be environmentally conscious and I enjoyed the analogy between a plastic bag and tumbleweed. Overall, a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dsinclair96, if I am honest, I was initially just skimming your blog to see if I wanted to read it because your title is genius and then I got to the bottom of the blog . . . I read the whole thing. This was a very intriguing and informative piece. My favorite part was when you included your personal contribution to the plastic buildup on earth. It shows how much the everyday person is capable of making a negative impact, but at the same time, a positive impact can be made by simply recognizing our actions/choices that affect the environment.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. First off your title is great. Also I agree completely that I see plastic bags floating around the city way too often and it especially bugs me that they never. ever. disintegrate. Its even more troubling to think about them eventually blowing into the ocean near by. It’s great to hear that you’ll be using reusable bags. After seeing how many bags we actually go through is an appalling number and I think I’ll start using reusable bags as well.


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