What is the true cost of plastic shopping bags?

A common feature of the modern Australian kitchen is the plastic bag drawer – a hidden compartment stuffed full with plastic grocery bags that have been collected over the years.

Chances are there is such a drawer in your home – if you have not yet invested in reusable shopping bags that is – which gets more and more packed every time you visit the supermarket.

Clean Up Australia estimates that Australians go through a jaw-dropping 3.92 billion plastic bags every single year, and the vast majority of those end up in landfills or as litter in our streets and oceans.

Of course, it's no secret that plastic bags are bad for the environment, but it might surprise you to learn just how damaging these can be to planet Earth.

According to environmental protection agency Ocean Crusaders, more than 100,000 marine creatures and one million sea birds die every year due to "plastic entanglement".

Plastic bags are also dangerous on land, where they block drains and trap birds, and can even kill livestock, according to Sustainability Victoria.

So what can you do to reduce the amount of plastic bags that you and your family go through every year? Well, the best idea is to invest in reusable shopping bags, which you can take with you every time you shop.

These reusable bags are stronger and sturdier than their plastic alternatives, and are therefore much better for the environment.

Another great thing you can do is recycle your plastic bags properly. Specially-marked shopping bag recycling bins can be found at the front of most supermarkets, so take advantage of these.

Don't just drop your plastic bags into your regular paper, glass and cardboard recycling bin, as this causes problems for the people who sort recyclables at the recycling station, and for the conveyor belts which process the recycling.

By doing your part, you can ensure a clean, green future for the Australians of tomorrow and also help protect the birds and animals that make this country special.