So, your at the till ready to pay for your groceries and you get asked, “would you like to use paper or plastic bags?” What is your answer? This is the age old question, and groceries chains like Choices still ask this question to each of there customers.
So do you answer Paper?
- According to the Wall Street Journal only 1 to 3% of paper bags actually get recycled.
- According to the Federal Office of the Environment, paper sacks generate 70% more air and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags.
- In 1999, 14 million trees were cut to produce the 10 billion paper grocery bags used by Americans that year alone.
So I guess you choose Plastic?
- Franklin Associates concluded that the manufacture of plastic bags produced considerably less air pollution, water borne wastes, and industrial solid-waste than the manufacture of paper.
- Plastic bags are lighter, they also produce less post-consumer solid waste, taking up less space in landfills.
- Plastic bags required slightly less energy to manufacture at a use rate of 1.5 to 1 compared with paper and more energy at a use rate of 2 to 1. BUT!!! Paper bags are better because they are made from wood, a renewable resource, while plastic bags are made from petroleum.
- Annddd… plastic bags take longer to degrade, in fact, nothing completely degrades in modern landfills because of the lack of water, light, oxygen and other important elements that are necessary for the degradation process to be completed.
So which one do you choose? Confused perhaps?
Well the answer here really is neither. Bring your own reusable back. If you do forget your bag, and you are faced with the decision between paper and plastic, pick the one that you think you will use again.
Moral of the story, this question is irrelevant since the answer is in the reusable bag. Now you need to spread this idea farther than the grocery store. For example, bring a reusable bag to the mall, so you don’t need to get a bag after each purchase! I’ve put a few good links below that can show you places to buy reusable bags that are a tad stylish (this way you don’t have to put your new Guess Jeans in your reusable Safeway bag).
Until next time,