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What are some downsides of using plastic shopping bags?

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Quick Answer

Some of the downsides of plastic shopping bags include their negative effect on wildlife and the environment, their non-renewable and non-biodegradable composition, their high environmental cost to produce and their lack of durability. Environmental experts recommend reusable shopping bags as an alternative.

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Full Answer

Plastic bags often clog waterways and damage ecosystems; many end up in oceans where birds and marine animals ingest them when they mistake them for food. Thousands of animals die each year after ingesting or choking on plastic bags, confirms About News. In a standard landfill, plastic bags can take more than 1,000 years to break down, but they only become smaller plastic pieces that continue to pollute soil and water.

Many plastic shopping bags are created using non-renewable petroleum, and 12 million oil barrels are required to make 100 billion bags, according to Factory Direct Promos. Although each bag requires relatively little petroleum to produce, consumers generally only use bags once and fail to recycle them, as only 1 to 3 percent are ever recycled, states About News. Plastic shopping bags are less durable than reusable bags, which can last three to five years or more and are resistant to tears. The only real advantage of using plastic shopping bags is their convenience.

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