Paper or plastic?

A question I never gave much thought. Years ago I used paper grocery bags. I was more confident I could make it from my car to the kitchen without my bag ripping and my cans of soup rolling into the street. Plastic seemed too flimsy, but then plastic started its world domination tour and, unless you specifically asked for paper, plastic became the preferred bag of teenage grocery store baggers around the country.

Now there's another option: cloth bags. I bought a few when the whole cloth bag craze began and stashed them in my car, but always forgot to grab them when I went into the grocery store. And then I saw this website, One Bag At A Time. Talk about putting me and my flimsy plastic bags in check! Just a few facts from their website:

· About 8% to 10% of our total oil supply goes to making plastic. If you took the bags an average American throws away each year and converted it back into petroleum, you could drive about 60 miles on that fuel.

· In manufacturing, an estimated 12 million barrels of oil are used to make the bags Americans use each year.

· It’s estimated that Americans use over 380 billion plastic bags and wraps a year, costing an estimated $64 billion in tax dollars wasted on plastic bag clean up!

· In 2008, researchers found 42 pounds of plastic in the ocean for every one pound of plankton.

So the next time I’m confronted with the age old question "paper or plastic?", I’ll choose neither and use my cloth bags instead. I'll feel better knowing I’m doing something smart for the environment.

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Comments

Radical Uterus June 24, 2011 @ 9:51 p.m.

Imagine if we had a government serious about conservation and a President willing to shame our lawmakers into making sustainable policy.

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Twister June 24, 2011 @ 10:35 p.m.

It's a long process.

The worst thing about plastic is that it kills. Possibly worse than bags are those little tiny plastic tag-holders that are so small that they are just cut off and become part of the dirt. If a bird ingests them, bye, bye, birdie. Turf nets trap lizards. Not to mention the little shards of nylon from weed-eaters that are eaten by all kinds of animals, even your pets.

The list goes on. Don't buy from those who are responsible; vote with your feet and your dollars--even your tongue (possibly one of the few valid uses of the "in your face" farce). But be nice. But be firm.

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kenholmes June 27, 2011 @ 2:09 p.m.

sigh.... fact checking and context: • 8-10% of oil into plastics? NO, it's more like 3-4%, and plastic ins't made from crude oil, but from by-products that are created when refining oil. Plastic bags are a very small fraction of all plastics. Look around your house or office: cars, computers, clocks, phones, etc etc. • 12 Million barrels of oil per year to make bags. True. BUT, we use nearly twice that much every day, mainly for fuel. Based on the actual numbers, and on the amouont of oil that goes into a single bag, the gasoline equivalent of the average annual bag consumption is about half a gallon. To reverse those numbers, the amount of oil that goes into filling a 15 gallon gas tank would make the bags for one person for thirty years. • the amount of money used to clean up plastic litter would be VASTLY decreased by increased recycling programs • The final fact... about plankton... I have no idea where that fact came from or what it actually applies to. In the middle of the pacific garbage patch...maybe? this also fails to suggest any context... the fact that there is more of one thing than another, without any context, means nothing.

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