Plastic: A Toxic Love Story

Words: 1103
Pages: 5

American shoppers use an estimated 102 billion shopping bags a year, more than 500 per consumer. The plastic bag has become a common place item in most peoples lives and households. The thin polythene bags are used by millions of Americans every day, and most are used only once and then discarded. These plastic bags end up in storm drains, landfills, marine environments, or stuffed in the back of dark cupboards. Susan Frienkel, the author of “Plastic: A Toxic Love Story”, notes that “The plastic bag has come to represent the collective sins of the age of plastic”.(qtd in Docette, Kitt pg1) In 1898, German chemist Hans von Pechmann was experimenting with methane and ether when he discovered a wax-like precipitate that he called polymethylene. Thirty years later, DuPont scientists stumbled upon a similar compound known as polyethylene. This was used to insulate radar cables, and was used during the war. In 1953, German scientists Karl Ziegler and Erhard Holzkamp invented high density polyethylene and began using it to manufacture pipes. The …show more content…
In 2007 San Francisco became the first US city to impose a ban on plastic bags and in Washington,DC a 5 cent fee on the use of plastic bags has reduced the monthly use from 22.5 million bags to barely 3 million. All over the country, more than 200 anti-bag measure have been instituted. These efforts have been mainly led by community organizers and concerned citizens rather than radical environmental groups (Doucette). Despite their convenience, marvelous engineering, and reduced cost, the impact which plastic bags make on the environment outweighs all these benefits. Reducing their use will have a beneficial effect which will lead to cleaner waterways, reduced animal deaths, and an overall positive impact on the earth's