Areille - the Lioness of God

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Paper or Plastic?

An hour of decision making finally comes to an end. You believe you have made the better choice. You chose 1% milk over the full fat, baked potato chips over the fried ones, some fresh fruits for snacking, whole wheat pasta, carrot juice and what not. You are on your way to the checkout corner to make your final choice when the bagging lady asks you - Paper or plastic?

I don't know about you, but I definitely have always wondered which one is the better choice. I knew that paper was bad cause they are cutting down trees for it but plastic is bad too cause it isn't as easily recycled. So which which which? Well some facts first (sources- too many to mention):

Plastic bags are light and sturdy; so they can be reused. But they are difficult to recycle as the bags are made of different plastic types and thus have to be separated for recycling purposes. Also, plastic production uses and produces a lot of toxic materials and plastic burning creates harmful gases.

Now you must think paper bags is the way to go since we have all heard they are natural and recylable. Paper bags, to be as sturdy as they are, cannot be made from a lot of recyclable material. Paper bags are also thicker and so they occupy a lot more landfill space and contrary to popular belief, don't biodegrade any faster than their plastic conterparts!

So sadly there is no better choice. We have reached a lose-lose situation which only we can help. A small & promisingly effective change would be investing in some cloth grocery bags and using them on your shopping trips(keeping them in your car is a great way to remember to take them). Another one is using and reusing the bags we already have in our homes. Places like Whole Foods actually give a 5c discount every time you use your own bags. Even if one person takes this advice on one shopping trip, this will be time well spent and space well used. So, next time that uninterested checkout lady bags your pack of gum, please act!

P.S. Watching movies like "An Inconvenient Truth" and reading up articles on similar thoughts, has forced me to feel it's high time each of us stop blaming someone else for all that is happening and start taking actions. Our main problem is we don't believe that "I" can make a difference. We have become so used to blaming it on the government and the poor and the rich and our neighbors! I will keep coming up with more environment friendly and mother nature love posts on and off. Boring but necessary points to get across.


  • At 7/18/2006 2:58 PM, Blogger woorkeri wittynathan said…

    In fact, I have taken it to the next level. I love the environment so much that I don't do groceries, (lest I use up some plastic or paper bags!) :P

  • At 7/19/2006 8:18 AM, Anonymous Ciara said…

    Howdy Areille...:)..Nice blog!

    I agree that choosing btw paper and plastic is indeed a tough one. I try to take my own bags to the grocery store. While tt is appreciated in places like Whole Foods and Randalls...I keep getting weird looks from the HEB cashiers...I guess it's because it ends up being an interruption to their checking out/bagging process (albeit a minor one)...especially when serving long lines of restless customers...

  • At 7/19/2006 8:27 AM, Blogger Areille said…

    Thanks, Ciara. I know what you mean. In such situations, I keep telling myself every little counts!

  • At 7/19/2006 2:09 PM, Blogger zaph said…

    every little counts, is suspiciously similar to every little helps, which is the tag line for the Tesco chain of supermarkets. and since this post is about supermarkets and shopping bags there is a distinct possibility that you will be hauled up for stepping in the way to capitalistic progress. its true, i have nothing significant to state, yet i must blabber.

  • At 7/19/2006 2:19 PM, Blogger Areille said…

    and blabber you must . . . coz I'm lovin' it! ;)

  • At 7/21/2006 7:54 AM, Blogger SternMystic said…

    Thats interesting, I didnt know paper was just as non-degradable. Now Im not gonna be struggling with 5 paper bags at whole foods anymore.

  • At 7/21/2006 8:06 AM, Blogger Areille said…

    Well, paper bags are biodegradable, but that needs air and most of our garbage is landfilled. So its not that they aren't degradable, we just don't allow them to degrade!

    Also, Whole foods has bins near the checkout counter where you can put in your used plastic grocery bags for recycling. I *love* Whole Foods! (ooh i sense another post!)


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