Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.
According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. (Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion)
According to the industry publication Modern Plastics, Taiwan consumes 20 billion bags a year - 900 per person.
According to Australia's Department of Environment, Australians consume 6.9 billion plastic bags each year - 326 per person. An estimated 0.7% or 49,600,000 end up as litter each year.
Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.
Plastic bags don't biodegrade, they photodegrade - breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest.
As part of Clean Up Australia Day, in one day nearly 500,000 plastic bags were collected.
Windblown plastic bags are so prevalent in Africa that a cottage industry has sprung up harvesting bags and using them to weave hats, and even bags. According to the BBC, one group harvests 30,000 per month.
According to David Barnes, a marine scientist with the British Antarctic Survey, plastic bags have gone "from being rare in the late 80s and early 90s to being almost everywhere from Spitsbergen 78 degrees North [latitude] to Falklands 51 degrees South [latitude]."
Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups, according to the nonprofit Center for Marine Conservation.
In 2001, Ireland consumed 1.2 billion plastic bags, or 316 per person. An extremely successful plastic bag consumption tax, or PlasTax, introduced in 2002 reduced consumption by 90%.
Approximately 18,000,000 liters of oil have been saved due to this reduced production. Governments around the world are considering implementing similar measures.
July 2003, ReusableBags.com goes live, advancing the mainstream adoption of reusable shopping bags.
Each high quality reusable shopping bag you use has the potential to eliminate hundreds, if not thousands, of plastic bags over its lifetime.
My challenge to you-Next time they bag your groceries, if you can physically carry the items, do it. They rarely ever ask the question "Paper or plastic?" any more. Sometimes they grumble, and sometimes they even give you a look. But its your stuff and you can have it your way. No plastic or paper bag. Obviously if you have too much to carry, you will need to have a bag. So try to invest $1 in a fabric bag or just use one that you already have. Extra back pack? Book bag? Im sure you have something. Budget friendly and free! I dont advise getting a bag from name brand stores with their name all over it. They arent good quality usually and its free advirtisment for them. I only advirtise things im passionate about. So use what you have! Try this for a week and watch your plastic/paper bag count go down.