A New Year’s reminder – Plastic bags are still choking our planet

As 2014 rolls into a bright new beginning, we thought we'd sit back and relax with a drink (decanted from our stainless steel bottles, of course!) reflecting over the past 12 months and what we're still trying to achieve – the eventual eradication of the plastic bag.

Ever since Onya Innovation's inception, our reusable, super eco-friendly bags have been at the core of our range of products. That's because we know for each bag that we sell, be it a backpack or one of our classic originals, further reduces the need for harmful plastic ones. Did you know, for example, that a single Onya bag can eliminate the need for 1,000 of the plastic variety? To put this into greater context, with every bag that we've sold so far, we've potentially relieved the Earth of 750 million plastic ones.

But why are these sinister staples of the supermarket so bad for our planet? A quick reminder:

They won't rot away for centuries

As plastic bags have only really been around for about 50 years, it's not precisely known how long it takes them to biodegrade, other than 'a very long time indeed'. However, scientists have given it their best estimate, placing the timeframe somewhere between 500 to 1,000 years. Why so long? It's because they are made largely from polyethylene, an artificially made polymer that microorganisms don't recognise as food – unlike paper, food and wood. What's worse, biodegradable plastic bags can actually cause more chemical harm to the environment than regular one, due to their toxic composites.

They clog up landfill like nobody's business

Australians use 4 billion plastic bags annually and they all have to end up somewhere. Unless you're one of the meagre 3 per cent of Australians who actively recycle their bags, that place is landfill. This many bags means we have to find space for 20,700 tons of wasted plastic in our already limited landfill sites each year, before they settle down for their 1,000 year decomposing process. What makes it all the more frustrating is that plastic bags can be oh-so-easily recycled.

Environmentally hostile

Plastic bags are produced using gas, oil and coal, belching noxious greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. Not only that, but a whopping 10 per cent of the 6 million tons of waste dumped into the oceans each year are plastic bags.

Plastic is estimated to kill 1 million sea birds and 100,000 sea mammals each year. This is because floating plastic bags are often mistaken for jellyfish, the food source of many turtles and whales. Ingesting a plastic bag can cause a slow and painful death and once they've killed one animal, they can kill again. They lie intact in the choked innards of the animal they killed, waiting for it to decompose until floating off again, silently stalking their next victim.