Plastic bags are spelling disaster for the environment. Thanks to the efforts of environmental activists, reusable bags have made inroads into shopping malls and major retail stores. However, there are few sections of people who still question the credibility of reusable bags.
If you, too, are hell bent on seeking reasons for using a reusable shopping bag, then here is a list of credible reasons.
1. Reusable bags hold more items than normal grocery bags- at least two and a half times more.
2. They are washable. However, check the bags before purchasing; the best ones can simply be dumped into the washing machine and can be used to carry anything- your lunch, clothes, grocery items etc.
3. Reusable bags make a perfect fashion statement. If you can spend hundreds of dollars on designer handbags, then you can spend a few for the good of the world.
4. The great news is reusable bags can keep the temperature of cold food intact. Keep cold foods in an insulated reusable bag and they will remain cold for hours.
5. Undoubtedly, reusable bags are not just great; they are a boon to the society. Studies suggest that an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion bags are used worldwide annually. 40 billion plastic and paper bags are used in the United States alone.
6. Using reusable bags means you are cutting down on tons of air pollution caused by plastic recycling.
7. Reusable bag usage means no paper bags which is equal to saving 400 parts of water per bag.
8. Over the span of their lifetime, reusable bags save more than 700 bags.
These are reasons enough for you to act quickly and get rid of those cursed plastic bags as soon as possible.
Canadians use more than 1.6 billion paper and polystyrene cups every year. That is the equivalent of half a million trees. Yikes! And all those cups – after being used once – have to end up somewhere.
And where the vast majority of those cups ARE ending up is the landfill.
According to Alive website, 114.5 million kilograms of paper cup waste-the equivalent of 22,900 elephants-is dumped into Canadian landfills each year.
In Toronto alone, 1 million paper cups are thrown away every day.
In the U.S., an estimated 25 billion paper coffee cups are used annually.
What it takes to produce a disposable hot beverage paper cup
To produce those 25 billion paper coffee cups in the States every year, an estimated 9.4 million trees have to be cut down, 7 trillion BTUs of energy are needed, and 21.6 billion litres of water are required.
As for Canada? 1.6 billion disposable paper coffee required 650,000 trees to be cut and 400 million gallons of water.
Plus, according to a study conducted by Starbucks and the Alliance for the Environmental Innovation (April 2000), each paper cup manufactured is responsible for 0.24 lbs of CO2 emissions (Carry Your Cup website).
In other words, the production of disposable cups is very resource- intensive. It takes a lot of wood, a lot of water, and a lot of energy to put that cup of java in your hand… in a cup that is only going to be used once.
It makes much more sense to purchase a reusable coffee mug and use it over and over again. The only way to reduce the amount of disposable coffee cups we send to landfills is stop using them in the first place. Simple, yes. But apparently not easy.
Tim Hortons and Starbucks have been somewhat proactive in addressing the problem by offering discounts to those who use their own cups, as well as introducing recycling programs. However, a recent CBC Investigates article (“Tim Hortons, Starbucks recycling claims may be garbage,” Oct 30, 2015) revealed the actual destination of cups placed in the recycled containers… and let’s just say it wasn’t the recycling plant.
Disposable cups are difficult to recycle. Disposable coffee cups aren’t like other recyclable materials. Most paper cups are made from only a small amount of recycled materials because recycled paper products aren’t capable of holding hot liquids. In fact, disposable cups really can’t be made from recycled paper because according to Environment Canada, it fails to meet health standards and is not sturdy enough to support liquid.
Plus, in order to prevent the cups from leaking, they are coated with a plastic that can prevent them from being properly recycled. While many people think that paper coffee cups are recyclable, most facilities do not accept them because of their inner plastic lining.
So while the paper coffee cup may seem like an eco-friendly alternative, the lining not only makes the cups difficult to recycle, it also prevents them from breaking down easily in the landfill – and when they do, the lining turns into tiny particles that can end up in the food chain.
If you have a plastic reusable mug, be sure to check the recyclable number on the bottom. According to National Geographic’s Green Guide, those with the numbers 2, 4, and 5 will not release substances into your food and can be recycled in most municipalities.
If you prefer metal, choose one without a liner, since some epoxy liners contain the unhealthy chemical bisphenol A.