Plastic bag bans – do they really work?

I remember on a recent trip to San Francisco, I was taken aback by how environmentally friendly the whole city was. Everybody drove a Prius, some buses ran on electricity instead of petrol, they had an amazing trash/recycling system (you have to use compostable plastic bags for food waste!) and every store I went into had a plastic bag tax. Now, I know the latter might have been some people’s worst nightmare (“So you’re telling me I’m on holiday and I also have to pay an extra 10c every time I want to buy something?”) but it was eye-opening and inspirational for me. Always having been aware of the issue of plastic bag waste/pollution, living temporarily in a city that had implemented a city-wide plastic bag ban was interesting – and not as hard as people make it out to be.

Returning back to Sydney though, I was thrown back into a world where a plastic bag was just another part of your daily routines – back in a world where no bans existed, I could understand how easy it was to fall back into a routine of using single-use plastic bags. However, knowing full well of the detriment this entails and how easy the solution is, I’ve vowed to try and reduce by plastic bag intake until they implement a statewide plastic bag ban in NSW (come one NSW, SA has been on it for ages now!)

Apart from the fact that our poor wildlife can’t dodge and defend these airborne predators as well as we can (as mentioned in the previous post), here are some reasons why a plastic bag ban works!

1. Bans encourage the use of reusable or single use bags

A non-partisan Equinox centre found that plastic bag bans in San Jose, San Diego and LA resulted in a reduction of single-use plastic bags and people were using reusable bags or no bags at all! After Ireland implemented a plastic bag tax, plastic bag usage dropped 94%.

2. Bans reduce litter issue

Photo source: Latitude news

Do you really want to live in a world of filth and rubbish? The plastic bag ban in San Jose was found to reduce litter by approx. 89% in the storm drain system, 60% in creeks and rivers and 59% in neighbourhoods. That’s a GREAT difference¬†considering the fact that the world produces 2.5 trillion plastic bags a year that mostly end up as litter. No one likes a plastic tumbleweed…

3. Large amounts of plastic bags aren’t easily recycled – so bans help us by reducing the need to even get to this point

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. PLastic bags SHOULD be recycled by the process is cumbersome and too hard for a majority of people to do. So what happens? Well only 3% of plastic bags are recycled correctly, leaving a whopping 97% free to work their way into our environment and threaten our poor, defenseless wildlife. On average families also bring home 1500 plastic bags. Ask yourself, do you re-use all 1500 bags that you bring home? Why not just invest in one or two canvas tote bags that you WILL reuse and won’t make their way into our environment as pollution?

THIS is why we really think that a plastic bag ban actually helps and should be implemented. What are your thoughts?

In the meantime, we’ll still be toting our reusable bags #totewise. Who’s with us?