Written by Mona Golub; VP Public Relations & Consumer/Marketing Services
Paper or Plastic? Neither.
A little history on bags…..
Paper or plastic?
In the early 1900’s, people relied on their own sacks and carts to transport goods purchased from store to home. In the mid 1940’s, paper bags offered customers an alternative, a branded perk from their favorite stores. As convenience became king in the 1980’s, easy-to-carry thin film single use plastic bags became popular. At the time, they were the best solution.
Today, as bag bans become more prevalent across the U.S. – which is decades behind Europe – we must all face the fact that disposable bags are no longer the best solution.
Disposable Plastic Bags
Disposable plastic bags are known to spoil our natural resources, blight our cities, pollute our waters, clog our infrastructure, and contaminate our food supply.
And though often presumed to be a good replacement for plastic, disposable paper bags are no better, raising other serious environmental concerns:
- They take four times more energy to manufacture than plastic
- Their production requires the use of toxic chemicals that generate 70% more air pollutants and 50% more water pollutants
- They require twice as much energy to recycle as plastic
- Although degradable, they don’t break down in landfills which lack water, light and oxygen
- It takes approximately seven trucks to transport the same number of paper bags that can be transported by one truck of plastic bags, given that they are heavier and less compact.
And let’s not forget that paper bags are not consumer-friendly. They don’t have handles, rip easily and are awkward to reuse.
Essentially, we use disposable bags once or twice, and then they become waste. It’s time to consider heavy duty reusable alternatives and anticipate the next wave of change that is coming our way.
What can each of us do?
- When making a small purchase, decline a bag altogether
- For weekly shopping, invest in the long term solution. Dig out, seek out, invest in or acquire heavy duty reusable bags to help get whatever you buy, back home. Each reusable bag has the potential to eliminate 1,000 disposable bags over its lifetime.
- Plan your personal strategy for remembering to use them (i.e. leave them in your car, so they’re always available when you go shopping.)
Do (yourself and) the earth a favor. Ditch disposables for reusables. You’ll have what you need for years to come!