Paper or Plastic?

SS Member Image By drodriguez 05.08.07
Paper or Plastic?
Share Tweet
It seems the trek to a greener world is more complex than ever. San Francisco’s recently announced that it would institute the first ban on polyethylene shopping bags, quite a feat since the city alone uses 181 million of them a year. Cheap and easy to use, the soon to be scarce carry-all also produces less pollution when manufactured than paper bags. And all long we thought asking for paper was doing the environmentally mature thing. Here's one illustration of the latest debate over paper vs plastic:


According to Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment (ILEA), an environmental advocacy organization, choosing plastic over paper is the preferred choice. According to its website, www.ilea.org, two plastic bags produce 72% fewer pollutants than a single paper bag. Not to mention, according to the Environmental Literacy Council, it would take about seven trucks to transport the same number of paper bags as can be transported by a single truck full of plastic bags.


So here in the United States, a new choice has surfaced: Poly or Bio? Biodegradable plastic bags used to cost more than three times with less ability than the poly bags, but new products are out there to help close the price and functionality gaps. Keith Edwards, a business manager for BASF estimates that biodegradable bags will cost only 3 to 4 cents more than the 1 to 2 cent poly bag.

Regardless of chemical makeup, grocery store giants such as Pathmark and Whole Foods offer rebates for re-using bags (2 cents and 10 cents respectively) and there's a push in general for bringing your own bags (cloth, net, hemp or otherwise). On April 19th, Singapore held its first Bring Your Own Bag Day and managed to save an estimated 100,000 plastic bags.  If you're ready for the full facts about US consumption watch this informative clip: Convenient Truths

So what's the answer? Is San Francisco on the right track with the conversion to Bio bags? It will create a whole new market, that’s for sure. Paper bags? We need sustainable forests. Stick with the cheap and easy poly? or make your own statement with bags of your own?

Make a Comment

Comment  *
 
 
  • dynocat By dynocat
    08.30.07  

    I'd like to see all of us using reusable cloth bags when shopping. I have the best canvas bags that are not only sturdy and utilitarian, but attractive. String bags mentioned are also a great idea.

    There are some items that require plastic packaging for freshness or sanitary reasons. I would really like to avoid them when possible though.

  • shesamazingnyc By shesamazingnyc
    07.25.07  

    I use string bags. They hold a TON and scrunch up into nothing when you're not using them. I use them for everything.

  • Stephannie By Stephannie
    07.10.07  

    We really need to help ourselves by thinking about how we use products today. We can no longer just sit around and do nothig to help our enviornment.

  • mackie80 By mackie80
    06.30.07  

    I use the paper bags from the store to put my recyclables in when the truck picks them up. I recently went to IKEA, and they now require a 5cent donation if you want to use a bag. The money goes to a company that plants trees to counter the effects of the plastic. I couldn't believe that people actually were grumbling about it! Seemed like a fantastic idea to me, especially when a lot of the time you can use the some of stuff you buy there (like a wastebasket)to hold the rest. The cloth bag idea is probably best, but how many people will really do it? Maybe if the stores had promotions for people that brought their own it would work.

  • SPRINGBABY By SPRINGBABY
    06.08.07  

    I like recyable plastic bags.

  • pipnbronte By pipnbronte
    05.23.07  

    I hate using plastic bags! This falls under my "pack-in, pack-out" theory of corporations--if they put it out there, they should take it back. Some of the local stores have recycle bins for plastic bags, but they may as well be hidden! I think they should be REQUIRED to offer a person a place to recycle.

  • sweetpotato By sweetpotato
    05.22.07  

    I think if everyone tried to reuse there plastic bags that we would use a lotless. Of course, thats in a perfect world.For the time being,I try to do my part

  • garber6th By garber6th
    05.21.07  

    I agree with MommaGeorge... I try to avoid products that are wrapped individually. I use my own reusable containiners and when I can I even reuse plastic storage bags. I also use reusable grocery bags. When I went to a grocery store in Germany I noticed that they charge you for bags so most people bring their own reusable type bags. Maybe if here in the US we hit people here where it hurts (their wallets) maybe they would be more conscientious.

  • MommaGeorge By MommaGeorge
    05.18.07  

    I think cutting down on plastics are a good thing and at the grocery line is a start....BUT what about all the packaging from manufacturers? If packaging could comed wrapped once instead fo multiple times just "think" how much could be saved!

  • canelaajena By canelaajena
    05.18.07  

    How about cloth bags? I also like bio bags. The basket idea is good -except when going on a bif shopping trip. I would have to carry several baskets and that can get heavy and bulky. I think cloth bags are the solution. The can be reused over and over.

More stories like this