Have you ever heard someone mention that if everyone in the United States tied their annual consumption of plastic bags together, the chain of bags would wrap around the Earth’s equator so many times, or something similar? It is silly to use this type of statement to articulate plastic bag consumption in the United States, especially since any item can be “wrapped around the Earth.” Have you heard of other items being “wrapped around the Earth?” Simply figuring out how many times something wraps around the Earth often times doesn’t provide context or relevance. A few of my favorite examples are included below:
- Costco sells enough rolls of toilet tissue a year to wrap around the Earth 1200 times.
- Enough disposable pens are sold annually in the U.S. to wrap around the Earth 18 times.
- One mole of paperclips hooked end to end would wrap around the Earth 400 trillion times.
- The amount of cable within the Golden Gate Bridge could wrap around the Earth’s equator just over 3 times.
- All the strawberries produced in California annually would wrap around the Earth 15 times.
- One person’s DNA would wrap around the Earth 5 million times.
While anything can be “wrapped around the Earth,” it especially doesn’t make sense to measure plastic bag consumption based off this measurement because so many consumers reuse and recycle the plastic bags they consume each day! In fact, a recent APCO study found that about 90% of American households reuse some of their plastic bags and an Environment Australia study found that more than 60% of all plastic bags are reused at least once. And in 2012, the plastic bag industry recycled more than 900 million pounds of post-consumer plastic bags, sacks, and wraps, some of which were used to make new plastic bags!
At the end of the day, it’s important to simply remember that plastic bags, sacks and wraps are 100% recyclable! To make recycling as easy as possible, we have placed in-store recycling bins at more than 30,000 at retail stores throughout the United States!