Cut down on unnecessary waste and avoid the “paper or plastic” predicament by saying “no” to paper and plastic and “yes” to reusable alternatives. Paper and plastic bags have become a convenient habit that is ruining our environment and wasting precious resources. Why not make the switch to reusable bags? Here is a little information about the different bags available today and how they impact the environment.
Plastic – Disposable plastic grocery bags are usually made from either high-density polyethylene (#2 plastic) or low-density polyethylene (#4 plastic). These plastics are manufactured from refined petroleum and it is estimated that the U.S. uses 12 millions barrels of oil a year to make the plastic bags we consume. The biggest issue with these bags, aside from the fact that they use up natural resources, is that they are predicted to take a thousand years or more to breakdown in the environment. The overabundance of these plastic bags must go somewhere. Some are recycled, but the majority of these one-use bags are padding the landfills, clogging the waterways and choking the environment with needless garbage.
Paper – Disposable paper bags usually do not get the bad rap associated with plastic bags, but let us take a closer look. Some paper bags are produced from recycled materials, while the majority of them are made from trees. Paper bags have a huge impact on forests. These are the forests and trees we rely on to produce our oxygen and absorb greenhouse gases. Comparing the energy it takes to produce disposable bags, paper actually takes more energy to manufacture than plastic. Even when recycling, paper bags use more energy than plastic bags. Sadly, even though these bags can be recycled, the rate of recycling is low and the majority of bags are still produced from new paper.
Reusable Bags – Reusable shopping bags are a great alternative to paper and plastic bags. One high quality reusable bag can replace thousands of paper and plastic bags. Switching to reusable bags is a simple change that can minimize the use of natural resources, lessen the build up of waste, and slow down climate change. If every individual who uses paper or plastic bags switched to quality reusable shopping totes, the impact on the environment would be extreme. Replacing your disposable one-use bags with reusable alternative is a simple step that everyone can take to ensure a healthier future.
When shopping for reusable bags, make sure you purchase bags made with high-quality materials. This will ensure your purchase lasts as long as possible and that you get as much use out of your bags as you can. It is a great idea to shop around and research bags to find out what materials they are made of, how they are produced, if they are recyclable, where they are made, and so on. Select bags you will feel good about using and choose the right sizes to fit your needs. These bags will be around for awhile, so make sure to do your homework so your reusable bags do not end up polluting landfills alongside paper and plastic bags.
You may find using your new bags a struggle at first. It can be hard to remember to bring them every time you shop, but it will become a habit soon enough. You will feel great about doing your part to achieve a greener environment and may even save a little money while you do it. Many stores reward customers who bring their own reusable bags in when shopping. So, break the habit of unnecessary waste and switch to reusable shopping bags today.
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