Today we celebrate International Plastic Bag Free Day. This initiative was created in 2010 by the Gaia Network and Zero Waste Europe. On this day, citizens and associations are invited to organize events and actions against the distribution and production of single-use plastic bags around the world. The challenge’s goal is to preserve the planet’s environment by progressing more and more towards a world without plastic bags.

The origin of the Plastic Bag Free Day

Over the years, we realized that the Western model of consumption was no longer viable. Indeed, this habit of “buy and throw away” has had disastrous consequences for the environment. Five hundred billion plastic bags per year are used worldwide, the majority of which end up in nature, on land and in the oceans. Plastic bags take about 100 to 500 years to decompose completely and therefore have a lasting effect on the environment. 

They also put the lives of many species at risk. To date, 31 species of marine mammals and 100 species of seabirds have already ingested plastic. 

Animals are not the only victims of this phenomenon; plastic has now entered our food chain and is now omnipresent in our oceans and consequently, in the seafood we eat. In December 2020, researchers detected tiny plastic particles in the placenta of pregnant women.  

This is why actions are taken to fight against this phenomenon.

What are governments doing?

In recent years, this issue has gained global awareness. In May 2011, the European Commission launched a consultation with European citizens to gather their opinions on the issue of reducing the use of plastic bags. Seventy percent of European citizens supported a ban on distribution of plastic bags across Europe. More recently, several countries have banned the sale of plastic bags in supermarkets, such as France in July 2016 and Costa Rica in 2017. Other states have taken the decision to tax plastic bags, such as the United Kingdom in 2015. 

The International Plastic Bag Free Day is maintained year after year in order to continue the fight against the overconsumption of this product that puts our ecosystem in danger. Much effort is still needed to completely eradicate single use plastic and move towards a more environmentally friendly way of consumption for future generations. 

The International Plastic Bag Free Day is one of the many proofs that humanity is moving towards an increasingly sustainable consumption pattern.

An article written by Alexia Vieira, member of the Commercial Department at Junior ISIT

International Plastic Bag Free Day

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