Have you noticed that some businesses are getting rid of plastic bags? Or maybe you haven’t noticed because you are too busy figuring out how to store or get rid of your own growing plastic bag collection! The average family gains 60 plastic bags in four trips to the grocery store.
Make no mistake – plastic bags are indeed a problem for the environment. According to the EPA, more than 380 billion plastic bags and sacks are used annually in the U.S. And, according to The Wall Street Journal, U.S. consumers go through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually, at an estimated $4 billion cost to retailers. It’s not just the cost that raises eyebrows – plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris found most often in coastal cleanups.
However, only eight states ban single-use plastic bags; 14 other states have laws that protect the bags. Why so few bans? A combination of factors including deep-pockets of the chemical industry and the political influence of retailers and restaurants account for plastic bag sales of roughly $1.4 billion in the U.S. alone.
As a result of the widespread proliferation of bags, lawmakers across the U.S. are banning or considering banning single-use plastic bags. Replacements include reusable bags which can also provide retailers with a great opportunity to expand their brand awareness as well as lessen negative environmental impacts. This, of course, present marketers with a place to make an impact for the environment and the store brand.
What’s your favorite bag to carry?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Poll students: Name stores that use their own bags instead of non-branded plastic bags.
- Plastic bag facts: https://conservingnow.com/plastic-bag-consumption-facts/
- Divide students into teams. Have each team select a store that currently uses non-reusable plastic bags.
- Each team should next design a reusable shopping bag for these stores.
- Have each team present their design in class.
- Vote on the winners.
Source: Ad Week; Conserving Now; Politico