Friday, September 21, 2012

Paper, plastic, or I have my own bag?

For the longest time when you went to the grocery store your food was put in a brown paper bag. There was no other option. Then suddenly plastic bags became the hot new thing. They were lighter than paper and had handles that allowed you to carry four bags in each hand. Paper or plastic became the most asked question at many stores.

I remember having some pretty heavy debates with friends and coworkers about the pros and cons of each. Paper killed trees, but was more easily biodegradable. Plastic stays around a lot longer and harms sea life, but doesn't use as much fuel to produce as paper. (When looking at this scenario, you must also look at the emissions from the logging trucks and the size of the carbon footprint) Both have good points and bad points, but there is a better answer to the age-old question Paper or Plastic? Simply reply, "No thank you - I have my own bag."

This is what the inside of my trunk looks like. My motto is have bag will shop. 

I have reusable bags of all sizes and if for some reason I forget to grab one out of the trunk I go without a bag. Smallest carbon footprint I can make when it comes to shopping.

I recently asked the question paper, plastic or I have my own bag on twitter and Facebook and was quite surprised by the replies. More people than I thought answered that they bring their own bags, which I think is fabulous! However, the others almost all chose plastic. This disturbed me so asked them why. 

I got answers like "I use them for gardening" or "We use them to take out the cat litter" ... OK, reasonable answers. So then I asked have you ever thought of buying ecofriendly, biodegradable plastic bags for this instead? The answer opened up a whole new conversation. 

Why would I buy plastic bags when the bags from the grocery store are already made from recycled plastic? 

Well, being made from recycled plastic and being biodegradable are two different things. Just because something is made from recycled plastic does not necessarily mean that it will be recycled again. Remember the post about how the city recycles for you and you can just throw everything in the trash can? Believe me, it was an eye opener for me too when I read what was on my city's website. 

Bottom line is educate yourself and do what you can to reduce the pollution left behind from paper and plastic bags. You may not go completely green with your shopping bags like I have, but hopefully this post will get you thinking a little more about what you will say the next time you are asked paper or plastic? 

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