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Environmental Sustainability

Paper or Plastic?

28th August 2015

The paper verse plastic bag rivalry has been heating up for years but which is the lesser of the two evils? Take a look at the environmental pros and cons listed below to make your own assessment. You may surprise yourself with your conclusion.

Plastic Bags are Better:

  • Less water used to produce
  • 70% less air pollution
  • Cheaper to produce
  • Higher potential for reuse
  • “Paper manufacturing is a highly energy-intensive process” – EPA’s Profile of the US Pulp and Paper Industry
  • Lighter weight – easier to transport

Paper Bags are Better:capture2

  • Made from a renewable source
  • Easy to recycle
  • Less harmful to wildlife
  • Biodegradable and compostable; plastic bags create 4x the solid waste
  • Difficult to recycle – banned from many centers because

Confused yet? Don’t beat yourself up too much for choosing paper or plastic, but clearly neither will result in your being crowned with a Goldman Environmental Prize Award. So what options do we have?

  • Dispose of bags properly by recycling them
  • Ask your cashier for a box from the back. Fruit, wine and other groceries are delivered in cardboard boxes from the manufacturer that are tossed out immediately after being unpacked. Reuse and then recycle these at house
  • Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bag) – Reuse paper and plastic bags (yes, even the “disposable” ones) or invest in a non-disposable ones. Sure, cloth and canvas bags take more energy to produce but if used regularly, their carbon footprint will be less than always reaching for a newly manufactured plastic bag
  • Go Bag-less – We frequently bag items that already have handles like milk jugs and cleaning detergents. Opt out of bagging these items.