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Paper or Plastic?

Paper or Plastic?
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?

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  • eyespy By eyespy
    05.08.07  

    The problem I have always had with plastics is that they require petroleum. We are already far too dependent on foreign oil. America used to be known as the breadbasket of the world. Surely we can grow our own trees or plant materials suitable for the newer biodegradable plastic bags.

  • nikkeb By nikkeb
    05.08.07  

    This is shocking news! What about tampon applicators. I tried to use paper vs. plastic as often as I could. Now what? Is plastic really the answer? Or is the re-usablitly of plastic the answer?

  • llhymans By llhymans
    05.08.07  

    The best way to go is to use cloth bags. I buy them at the grocery store and use them instead of plastic or pape

  • llhymans By llhymans
    05.08.07  

    The best way to go is to use cloth bags. I buy them at the grocery store and use them instead of plastic or paper

  • Lyndalu By Lyndalu
    05.09.07  

    I think with the video it looks like merchants should make cloth bags availbl at a price that consumers would be able to purchase more of them economically. That way we won't have to worry about plastic or paper and it would reduce the bags going to landfills all together....

  • littleronewis By littleronewis
    05.09.07  

    Reuse & Recycle

  • untold200 By untold200
    05.09.07  

    I know that a time long ago women went out shopping with there baskets. I know we live in a different time today but, that is something we could consider. What did everyone do before all the paper and plastic?

  • ckairii By ckairii
    05.09.07  

    I use my back pack...and if I think I might purchase more then one bags worth of food I'll bring a few reusable bags I bought from Trader Joes. It's that simple...I no longer have a bunch of plastic and paper bags cluttering up my kitchen and I'm doing some good for the environment.

  • fisfall By fisfall
    05.09.07  

    I bought 4 Blue insulated grocery bags from a catalog. They have a wide strap so it's easy on the hands. Cold foods stay cold till you get them home. Great for picnics too plenty of room

  • PDNJ By PDNJ
    05.09.07  

    I also purchased my own material bags to reuse instead of all the plastic. My opinion is - why can't the stores use paper bags with built in handles on them? I think that would solve the environment problem and be easy to carry.

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