Plastic Vs Paper
Plastic bags begin their
lives as natural gas or other petrochemical substances, which are finite,
polluting, and increasingly expensive resources.
The next time a grocery clerk asks, "Are plastic bags okay?" why not reply,
"I'll use my canvas shopping bags instead, thank you."
"Paper or plastic?" has become as commonplace and casual as "Have a nice
day." But there's nothing casual about the use of plastic bags and paper
bags for groceries in America. According to World watch Institute, factories
around the world manufactured 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags per year.
Although many of these bags are recyclable, each year Americans return only
0.6 percent of the 100 billion plastic bags they use and toss the rest.
paper bags better?
paper bags better? Let's compare paper and plastic. Plastic bag production
requires 40 percent less energy, results in 80 percent less solid and 94
percent less waterborne wastes, and generates 70 percent less air pollution
than the manufacture of paper bags. Plastic bags also take up less room in
But many plastic bags are littered or fly away, where they clog up sewers
and waterways, become entangled in vegetation and fences, and get caught in
the throats of animals. Plastic bags are found in the stomachs of sea
turtles and on the shores of remote islands. Once plastic bags are in the
environment - whether in a landfill or polluting a lake - it can take
hundreds of years for them to decompose, and they contribute toxins to the
soil and water as they do.
And paper bags? Although they are more likely to be recycled (about 10 to 15
percent), the environmental impact is staggering. Beyond enormous energy
costs, 14 million trees in 1999 alone were cut down to manufacture the 10
billion paper grocery bags used by Americans.
On the other hand, canvas bags are strong and reliable, don't tip over, hold
more than plastic bags, and are good for the environment. Take them shopping