Bags to the Future
Each month, we suggest a little something you can do to make a positive difference in the world. Begin with kicking the plastic bag habit.
Plastic bags look incredibly tacky, which is reason enough to say, “No thank you, mister shopkeeper man.” But if you need further motivation, know this: They’re also an environmental and biological nightmare. You see, plastic bags don’t actually biodegrade — they photodegrade, which means that they verrrrry sloooooowly (as in, over hundreds of years) break down into ever smaller pieces. These tiny plastic particles contaminate soil and waterways, and a lot of them find their way into the oceans. There, microplastics and the toxic chemicals they contain are ingested by marine animals. When we eat the fish, these toxins enter our systems. Research suggests that chemicals in plastic may be responsible for the drastic drop in male sperm counts, which have plunged by more than 50% since the 1950s, when plastic production began to really ramp up. Doctors say we’re in the midst of an infertility crisis. Quite a kick in the pants, eh gentlemen?
Even when they don’t break down, plastic bags are a big problem. Animals eat them and die, often suffering painfully protracted deaths from intestinal obstructions. Bags clog stormwater drains and waterways, causing flooding and droughts, damaging ecosystems and harming wildlife, and providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes, increasing transmission of diseases like malaria. And yet, we carelessly consume more than 500 billion plastic bags globally per year — about a million per minute — using 60 million barrels of oil in their manufacture. Just 0.5% of these go on to be recycled, the vast majority consigned to landfill or becoming litter on land and sea after just one brief use. All this is why we humbly suggest that this month, you quit the plastic bag habit. (Try to forego the paper carry-bags provided in more upscale stores, too. While not quite as insidious as the plastic kind, they do have their impact.) You will still need to carry things around, of course, so invest in a bag capacious enough to fit the day’s grocery purchases or your latest menswear acquisitions. Think ahead and bring it with you on outings, and pack a cloth tote inside to deal with any overflow. Simple. Here are some bags that will help you do your bit in high style.