Here's a staggering stat - it's estimated that people in the United States use 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year.
Plastic bags don't biodegrade, they just break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits that can contaminate the environment.
As a result, it's important to recycle them properly. That means taking them to your nearby supermarket or drug store that has a recycling bin for them, like Wegmans does.
You should not put them out at the curb.
"A large issue with the yellow bins having plastic bags placed in them is that once they get to the recycling facility and start the sorting process they get stuck in the sorting equipment itself," said Debra Smith of Broome County Division of Solid Waste.
This is obviously a problem that doesn't have to happen.
And, here's the neat thing. You can actually give your plastic bags a second life as a type of lumber.
"Most of the stores, once they've received the plastic bags back from customers, they take them and have them sent out a to private company. One of the larger companies is known as Trex and they make Trex lumber. A lot of the plastic bags get recycled into recycled lumber, which is a plastic wood composite. From there it's sold for decking material, benches and has a wide variety of uses."
The sturdy plastic wood composite is also basically maintenance free. It won't mold, doesn't need painting and can be easily power-washed.
Here's another piece of trivia: the amount of petroleum used to make one plastic bag can actually propel a car for about 11 meters.
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