What Can the US Learn From Kenya About Their Plastic Bag Ban?

Check out the video from Swahili Sunday here and read more details below.

The United States uses an excessive amount of plastic bags every year that end up in a landfill and then the ocean causing harm to wildlife and ecosystems. We need to make some drastic changes in our plastic bag usage in order to reduce the amount of plastics that are not biodegradable.

According to facts compiled by the Center for Biological Diversity  

  • Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.
  • Americans use an average of 365 plastic bags per person per year. People in Denmark use an average of four plastic bags per year.

Some big box stores were attempting to solve this problem by charging for bags and then making what were supposed to be reusable plastic bags that are more heavy duty than the regular single use plastic bags.  The problem is they are still plastic bags.  A heavy duty bag made with the same material as a single-use plastic bag but double the weight has double the environmental impact, unless it is reused almost 2 dozen times They still get disposed of and still end up in the landfill. 

Most people I’ve talked to about those bags do not reuse them for shopping but usually use for trash so the idea that people are reusing them several times isn’t working.

In 2017 Kenya banned the use of single use plastic bags. Kenya enacted its plastic ban on July 28, 2017, prohibiting the use, manufacture, or importation of plastic bags. Violators of the band can be imprisoned up to four years, or a fine of between approximately $20,000 and $40,000.

They replaced them with cloth bags that come in many sizes and are sturdy and reusable.  There is a small fee for them like costs of our reusable plastic bags currently at many stores.  If the US would adopt a policy to eliminate these single use plastic bags and replace them with cloth bags, we could reduce the amount of plastic bags in landfills significantly. 


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