The Ugly 12-Minute Truth About Plastic Bags

Unsplash/Brian Yurasits
Unsplash/Brian Yurasits

After being given a plastic bag for their purchases, shoppers only use it for an average of 12 minutes. After that, they remove the products from the bag and more often than not, throw the plastic bag away. According to "The Lifespan of a Plastic Bag" a 2017 study by the New York Department of Sanitation, after just 12 minutes of fulfilling its purpose, the plastic bag then sits in a landfill for up to 1,000 years before it decomposes.

The plastic bags that you see in stores are created by heating petroleum, which is a nonrenewable resource and uses up a generous amount of fossil fuels. The negative impact of plastic bags on our planet has led to changes in the law. States like New York are encouraging shoppers to carry reusable bags with them to stores and require retailers who offer plastic bags to also provide a place to recycle them at the store.

Another common misconception about plastic bags is that they can be recycled in the bins that are collected each week. The New York Department of Sanitation explains that plastic bags are often mistakenly recycled, which then are caught in the city's recycling machinery and cause major delays that cost the city more money. Now you know the ugly truth about plastic bags-- 12 minutes of use means 1,000 years at the landfill.