Union County residents who are seeking ways to help the environment this year can start by bringing reusable grocery bags to the supermarket, and skipping single-use bags.
“Switching to reusable grocery bags is a simple but effective way for everyone to help cut down on waste and litter pollution, and start getting into the ‘Choose to Reuse’ habit,” said Union County Board of Commissioners Chairman Alexander Mirabella.
Single-use grocery bags have become notorious symbols of waste and litter. They pollute waterways and harm wildlife and marine animals, which often mistake them for food.
Whether made of paper or plastic, single-use grocery bags consume vast amounts of energy and raw materials, but they are only used for about 12 minutes on average. They are easily torn or damaged, which prevents them from being reused even once.
In contrast, reusable bags are sturdy and can last for years.
On November 4, 2020, the New Jersey State Legislature passed a ban on single-use paper and plastic grocery bags that goes into effect in May of 2022. Union County residents can plan ahead by making the switch to reusable bags now.
Here are some additional facts about plastic bags:*
- Up to 80 percent of ocean plastic pollution enters the ocean from land.
- At least 267 different species have been impacted by ocean plastic pollution.
- 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags every year.
- One in three leatherback sea turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs.
- Plastic bags degrade into microplastic particles that continue to pollute.
- The average family in the U.S. takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.
- An average only 15 of every 1,500 plastic bags are recycled in the U.S.
For more information about recycling programs and events hosted by Union County, visit ucnj.org/recycle. For on-the-go updates on all local and countywide recycling programs download the free Recycle Coach app.
Quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities are available at The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connect.
*Source: The Center for Biological Diversity.
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