Barrels of Oil & Billions of Bags

311 millions tons of plastic were produced in 2014. We forget that this plastic is made from petroleum, in fact 6-8% of the worlds oil goes to the primary production of plastic, and this expected to rise in the coming years. By reducing our dependency on single use plastics, we could save a lot of plastic, and lower our carbon footprint.

The articles claims that 12 million barrels of oil are used each year to produced 30 billion plastic bags for the United States.

Photo Credit: cairoscene.com

Cool. But my mind has always struggled with comprehending the scale of big numbers. So cool, a nice statistic I may recall someday, but what does it really mean? How do I interpret this in a way that shows the scale we are talking about?

I can drive to school for the amount of oil it takes to produce a single plastic bag (~ 6 mi/bag).

I drive a Toyota Camry (mpg ~30). For the oil used to make plastic bags for the United States, I could drive 15 billion miles. [12 million barrels x 42 gallons/barrel x 30 mil/gal]. I could drive to Pluto 3 times! or to the sun and back 80 times!

That is a lot of oil. As I start to recognize the huge market this is playing for oil and chemical companies, I realize why bag bans are getting so much resistance. The oil and chemical companies have massive lobbying power, and they are not going to let us protect the environment without a fight.

Read the Huffington Post article here

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