This is a question we all have to answer quite often at the checkout counter of a grocery store. We know that a plastic bag is probably not a good idea, so here is some information to support that hunch.
Too much of it
Every year, the world produces 500 BILLION plastic bags. In the last 10 years, more bags were produced than in the entire 20th century.
It's made of petroleum
In order to manufacture these bags, 60 million barrels of petroleum are used. This is enough oil to drive an average car for over 35 billion miles.
A plastic bag is used, in average, for 15 minutes. Then, it will never really “go away”. Plastic only breaks down into smaller pieces, increasing its harm to the environment.
It's a one-way street
Even though the type of plastic commonly used (HDPE) can technically be recycled, the problem is that waste processing plants do not accept plastic bags. That’s because they easily get in the orifices of machinery, clogging it.
Sadly, a lot of it is dumped in our oceans, where it directly affects wildlife (and therefore us too) as whole pieces and later as micro/nano plastics.
Banned, but not changed
Many jurisdictions across the planet have legislation underway to ban disposable plastic bags, which is a good thing! However, many of us are simply switching to disposable paper bags, instead of switching to reusable bags.
The main issue is not the material used, but the mentality of using disposable items for recurring tasks.