First off: both paper and plastic bags are not ideal for the world. Most people think that they are helping the environment by using paper over plastic. This is understandable since paper comes from a natural resource, whereas plastic comes from refining oil. It seems that paper would definitely biodegrade better than plastic. This is true to some extent.
Plastic is made from the refining of oil. We all know that plastic never fully biodegrades. A good portion of plastic bags are transported to the ocean by rivers. Many marine animals, such as sea turtles, mistake plastic bags for jellyfish. The plastic bags cause blockages in the sea turtles’ digestive systems and this will lead to death.
Paper bag production is a huge industry. There are about 14 million trees cut down every year. Just as chemicals are used to make plastic bags, chemicals are used during the production of paper bags. The chemicals pollute the environment and cause water pollution and other unfortunate impacts to the environment. Paper bags that end up in the landfills release methane gas which contributes to global warming. Also, the production of paper bags consumes more water than any other sector!
The best solution to rid yourself of guilt from using paper bags or plastic bags is to use reusable bags. Many companies give reusable bags away as promotions. Many cities now offer solutions by allowing people who have too many reusable bags to donate them. There are reusable bag days that allow people to drop off their reusable bags and those who are need in of them can come and pick as many up as they need — and all for free!
We can all come together and make grocery stores be paper bag- and plastic bag-free. There are already stores that do not allow any bags aside from reusable bags, and they are setting a great example for all other stores. Try starting a change.org petition to have your local grocery stores go paper- and plastic bag-free. You will be surprised at how many people sign your petition.
One small step, like switching your plastic and paper bags to reusable ones, can make a big impact on our sea life, landfills, and the world. Let’s come together and take a stand against wasteful plastic and paper bags and promote reusable bags.
Featured photo credit: International Plastics via Http