Bags that are not recycled end up becoming litter, because they do not biodegrade. In addition to filling up landfills and becoming eyesores, plastic bags that become litter endanger many facets of the environment, including marine life and the food chain. This is because plastic bags, like all plastic materials, eventually break up into microscopic pieces, which scientists refer to as microplastics. Microplastics have been found nearly everywhere: in marine animals, farmland soil, and urban air.
Though scientists have only just begun studying the consequences of microplastic proliferation, and we do not yet know their effect on animals, humans, and the environment, scientists are concerned about how this level of plastic pollution could change our planet. The studies that found plastic bags to be less harmful to the environment than paper and reusable bags did not take effects of litter into account and instead assumed that the plastic bags would be recycled or used as trash bags.
Paper bags have some advantages over plastic bags when it comes to sustainability. They are easier to recycle, and, because they are biodegradable, they can be used for purposes like composting. However, paper is very resource-heavy to produce: Manufacturing a paper bag takes about four times as much energy as it takes to produce a plastic bag, plus the chemicals and fertilizers used in producing paper bags create additional harm to the environment.
Studies have shown that, for a paper bag to neutralize its environmental impact compared to plastic, it would have to be used anywhere from three to 43 times. Since paper bags are the least durable of all the bagging options, it is unlikely that a person would get enough use out of any one bag to even out the environmental impact.
Still, the fact that paper is recyclable helps lessen its impact. In 2018, 68.1 percent of paper consumed in the United States was recovered for recycling, a percentage that has been rising in the last decade. However, because paper fibers become shorter and weaker each time the recycling process takes place, there is a limit to how many times paper can be recycled.
Plastic cards, which today are already considered outdated, were not a thing not long ago. Even physical money - cash had to be born for a list of specific reasons. Before the invention of money, as a universal means of payment, people had a different approach to the process. Services and products were exchanged among the members of the commune. It successfully served the purpose for a long time, but when the world became more global, the need for more convenient methods arose. To trade goods between different groups, the universal payment method was needed. That is exactly how the first metal coins were invented. At first, they were made either from gold or silver to highlight their value. However, as money became more widely used, precious metal coins became simply metal coins. This was followed by the introduction of paper banknotes. The primitive ones were very basic pieces of paper with the value indicators on them. However, due to safety concerns and possibilities of crime, layered security systems were introduced and advanced for them.
Whether we are talking coins or paper banknotes, cash, physical money remained unchanged for thousands of years. Despite their development, the system maintained its principles and worked the same way for a long time. This changed in the mid 20th century when the first plastic cards were introduced in 1950. This was a credit card, a completely innovative technology for that time. Later in 1966, the world’s first debit card was launched as well. However, neither one of them gained popularity until the 1990s. This was the era of credit cards and international phone calls. Cashless payments became widespread in the United States first, followed by other developed nations later, including the United Kingdom. From that period, plastic cards have become a part of our reality. We pay and get paid using them. Having one is almost a necessity for a modern human.
One other thing that the global spread of the internet brought is online shopping. Yes, the talk is about web stores where almost anything can be purchased. However, mentioning online trading is also important. On Forex trading platforms, anyone is able to purchase, sell or exchange currencies. They have become so popular that authorized FCA Forex brokers are quite common these days. Plastic cards also played a crucial role in shaping the trading platforms online, as a means of payment. However, the birth of cryptocurrencies has already reduced their importance in the field.