Can “just one” equal 7 billion?

We know numbers can be boring, but in the case of plastic, they can be staggering! Poly, our plastic friend, tried his best to help you conceptualize what the effect of “just one” can be. But let’s dive deeper into the numbers and really try to understand the impact that our choices can make.

If everyone on our planet still chose to use “just one” bag in a year that would still be 7 billion plastic bags floating around trying to find a home. But is that number even realistic? There are a lot of dedicated people trying hard to be zero waste and actually eliminating their use of plastic bags (awesome job BTW), but that is not most of us. So, let’s think about this in more “average” terms for plastic bag use. The average American goes to the grocery store 72 times a year. If we were to cut down our plastic bag use to just one bag per trip, Americans would still be consuming almost 26 billion plastic bags; 32% of those will find their way into our oceans.

So now let’s look at these numbers in more manageable terms. 32% of the 26 billion plastic bags still adds up to 8.3 million plastic bags. At 1.5 billion, cows are the second most populous mammals on the planet, second only to man, but much less than the plastic bag population. There are less than a billion dogs on our Earth. To match our “just one” per trip usage you would have to multiply the Earth’s population of dogs by 26!

There are more plastic bags used in a year (4 trillion) than the combined total of humans plus the next 10 most populous mammals! Over 3 trillion more!

The next time you head to the grocery store, think about the ripple effect that your “just one” might have. Reusable bags can be a good solution to our overpopulation of plastic bags.

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