Plastic bags are the world’s most notorious serial killers. Every year they kill thousands of mammals and seabirds, usually by asphyxiation or starvation when the animal mistakes the bag for food and tries to eat it. Turtles and dolphins in particular mistake the bags for a soft jellyfish. If the animal doesn’t die quickly, their flying or swimming abilities are weakened and they are eaten by predators. What’s more, the body of a dead animal might decay, but the plastic bag does not. It can last over 1,000 years and when the animal decays the plastic bag is simply released into the environment to kill again.
The impact of releasing one plastic bag into the environment is enormous. How horrifying is it then that the world uses around 1 trillion new plastic bags per year, with Australians using around 3.92 billion; tied together these would circle the earth 24 times. Plastic bags are lightweight and moisture resistant too, so they can easily travel great distances on wind and water. Its no wonder that in 2002 a young whale was found washed up on the Normandy Coast with over a kilogram of plastic bags in its stomach. Plastic bags are also made from non-renewable resources including crude oil, gas and coal which emit dangerous greenhouse gases. They are simply a huge blight on the environment.