We all know that a way to cut down the waste of plastic bags is to opt for ones that we can use on multiple occasions. Doing this saves $250,000 in disposable costs and 1000 plastic bags per reusable bag. However, more often than not, people do not realise that they have to use the green bag at least 104 times to make a difference to the environment. These bags take up more material and energy to produce than standard single-use plastic bags. A 2009 study discovered that if reusable bags were only used 52 times, the harmful impacts on the environment are so much greater than that of single-use bags. Just as green bags are used as a reusable alternative to plastic bags, metal straws and other non-disposable items are adopted as a more sustainable options to single-use plastic products. Keeping in mind the adverse effects these ‘greener’ options might have on the environment, it does seem that our pro-environmental initiative may not be as beneficial as we thought, especially when we do not continue to use the item incessantly.
Going eco-friendly is not as simple as it seems. Minimizing the environmental footprint is dependent on an array of things. From how any item is being generated, manufactured and delivered, the overall benefits from using a material over the other seem to be under a never ending list of deliberation and comparison. Regardless, this should not mean that we should still continue our unsustainable ways of using disposable items that pollute the air and threaten wild and marine life. We just have to be mindful about how our habits affect the earth and try our best to make sure that our intentions are in line with the way we consume and use environmentally friendly products.
The damage that comes with plastic or waste results from any other material is largely dependent on us and how we incorporate them into our lives. We can save on purchasing green bags and bring used plastic bags to supermarket the next time we go grocery shopping. We can choose to drink straight from the cup instead of using any type of straw to consume our drinks. There is no one item that is absolutely more sustainable than the other. Most items leave a carbon footprint and hamper our ecosystem in one way or another anyway. Perhaps, it is not the materials we use that make us eco-friendly, but rather, it’s how we use them. It’s our sustainable behavior that counts and not how many environmentally-safe products we own. Now that’s something to think about.