How do plastic bags affect our environment?

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The Environment and the Importance of Protecting It

The environment is supposedly a present from the next generation to the current one. Therefore, it is crucial that the current generation protects the ecosystem so that future generations will have a comfortable environment in which to live and work. The need to embrace green energy as a means of lowering pollution has recently been the subject of an increased effort. There have also been initiatives to educate people on the importance of preserving the ecosystem. Reduced rainfall, more frequent cyclones and storms, and increased drought are all signs of the effects of environmental deterioration. One of the products that are causing a major headache to environmentalist is plastics bags (The Times Editorial Board, 2017). The fact that these commodities do not decompose only worsens the situations. Plastic bags clog water pipes and drainage systems, they end up in water bodies such as seas and oceans where they endanger the lives of aquatic species and they also create a breeding for organisms such as mosquitoes (Greener Ideal, 2012). There is a need to embrace a new proposal which is the R-R-R-R program that sets to eliminate the harm that plastic bags pose to the environment. The new program stands for reuse, replace, reduce, and recycle and the best place to start the program is at the Walmart chain of supermarkets.

Walmart's Role in Reducing Plastic Bag Usage

By revenue, Walmart is the largest company in the world. It is a multinational retail corporation which operates a chain of grocery stores, hypermarkets, and discount department stores. This means that the Walmart attracts a lot of consumers to its stores who after doing their shopping require that the bought items be packed for them. Plastic bags have for many years been used by stores to pack goods for consumers and though the bags can be recycled, very few people remember to carry the bags with them when they revisit the stores. The bags are free and so consumers do not incur an extra cost when they visit the supermarket. This has in turn increased the quantity of plastic bags which is disposed off as waste. Being a leading supermarket worldwide, Walmart was the best choice to carry out the new program because of the large number of people who shop there.

The Proposal to Reuse, Replace, Reduce, and Recycle Plastic Bags

The new proposal plan, as stated earlier, seeks to reuse, replace, reduce, and recycle plastic bags. Reuse means using something more than once. Instead of using plastic bags, consumers should be encouraged to use reusable bags. An advantage of this is that the individuals will only incur the cost of buying the bags once after which they can use the product every time they visit the stores (PETA, n.d.). This move will save the supermarket the money used to purchase the plastic bags and also help reduce the plastic bag menace in the environment. Adjusting to this can be a challenge because people are already used to having their shopping packed at the supermarkets in plastic bags. Also, it is possible that people will forget to carry the bags during the first days when the proposal is implemented. However, with time customers will get used to the habit and this will no longer be a challenge.

The proposal also seeks to replace plastic bags with paper bags which are recyclable. Some plastic bags can only be used once after which they are disposed and this harms the environment. To eliminate such an occurrence, plastic bags should be replaced with paper bags which can be recycled (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 2016). Reducing plastic bags will involve charging an extra cost whenever a customer asks to have his or her shopping packed in the bags (Sharma, 2008). It also involves refusing to offer bags at checkout points. The pain of having to pay extra to have a plastic bag will push people into carrying their own reusable bags when they visit the stores. The last part of the program involves encouraging people to recycle. The customers should be encouraged to carry the bags the second time they go to the store as this will reduce their waste at home and also reduce the amount of plastic bags in the environment. It will also save them the extra cost of having to buy a bag every time they go shopping.

Overcoming Challenges and Resistance to Change

Even though change is inevitable, people tend to resist it. Plastic bags have been around for a long time and asking people to change from these items to reusable bags or recyclable pap rags is likely to face resistance. However, the transition is possible by first educating the public on the harm plastic bags pose to the environment. Information is power and creating awareness on the negative consequences of using plastic bags will encourage people to stop using them altogether. Walmart should have posters in its stores or outside the stores portraying the damages of the product. Also, the supermarket should continuously tell their customers not to forget to carry their reusable bags when they come shopping. The consumers should be given time, say three months to get used to the habit of carrying their reusable bags after which the supermarket should stop issuing bags freely or charge extra when customers request for the bags.

The Benefits of Walmart's Implementation of the Proposal

People want to live in a clean and safe environment and the use of plastic bags have been a stumbling block towards achieving the objective. There has also been a public outcry on the damage the product has on the environment. If Walmart takes up the proposal it will communicate to the consumers that indeed the supermarket is also taking part in protecting the environment and this will enhance its reputation. Reusing, reducing, recycling, and replacing is a good undertaking in combating the plastic bags menace and it is highly unlikely that people will object the move. The fact that the proposal gives customers options will ensure that the plan is a success. However, the companies that make plastic bags are going to lose customers like Walmart. Customers who are employees of the plastic bags manufacturing company are likely to boycott the supermarket because it costing them their jobs. Also, there are some people who do not mind paying the extra charge to get a plastic bag as a form of retaliation towards the efforts of eliminating plastic bags.

Conclusion: Walmart's Responsibility and the Importance of the Proposal

In conclusion, it is time that a solution is arrived at regarding the damage plastic has on the environment. Protecting the surrounding is a collective responsibility and so Walmart should embrace a measure which seeks to safeguard the environment. The proposal emphasizes the need to reduce, reuse, recycle, and replace plastic bags for something better either paper bags which are recyclables, reusable bags, or biodegradable bags. Walmart is a leading store globally and thus it should set a trend which others will emulate. This will not only protect its reputation but also increase its customer base particularly among those who love the environment.


Greener Ideal. (2012, June 13). How do plastic bags affect our environment? Retrieved from

PETA. (n.d.). Top five reasons to take your own shopping bags to the store. Retrieved from

Sharma, P. D. (2008, October 6). Plastic wastes ? Reduce, reuse and recycle of plastics are essential to make environment greener and safer: Retrieved from

The Times Editorial Board. (2017, January 12). Stop banning plastic bag bans. Retrieved from

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. (2016, March 17). Reducing, reusing and recycling plastic bags and wrap - Wisconsin DNR. Retrieved from

June 19, 2023

Environment Science

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