Paper or Plastic

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What is better paper or plastic?  The best answer is neither.  In a time when we are becoming more environmentally aware, every individual can make a significant impact and decrease pollution, simply by using his or her own bag to carry shopping items home.  Both paper and plastic use up valuable natural resources and cause significant pollution.  If you take my word for it, great you can make an impact from this day forward and bring your cloth bag, tote bag, or backpack when shopping.  If you need more convincing hopefully the next few paragraphs will do the job.   

Did you know that IT CAN TAKE UP TO 1000 YEARS BEFORE A PLASTIC BAG CAN BREAKDOWN AND BIODEGRADE?  How fast plastic breaks down depends on how much sunlight it is exposed to.   The ultraviolet rays from the sun cause the bonds in plastic to weaken and after 100s sometimes 1000s of years of exposure they finally biodegrade.  

How many plastic bags have you used in your lifetime?  How many times have we used a bag for only one or two items that could have been carried out by hand.  A plastic bag, which we sometimes use for only a few minutes, is then thrown away and left to pollute the Earth for the next 1000 years.  Wall Street Journal reported that in 2008, the retail store Target purchases 1.8 billion bags a year.  The less we use their bags, the less bags they will re-order.  

What are some of the natural resources used when making plastic bags?  Both petroleum and natural gas are common sources in almost all plastic bags made today.   It should also be noted that plastic is
by -product of oil refining.  The Wall Street Journal found that the United States uses up to 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year.  In order to produce that many bags, they estimate this requires the use of around 12 million barrels of oil.  We must also consider the electricity used in the actual production and manufacturing of plastic bags.  

You might respond by saying “but I recycle.“  Yes recycling does help, but EVEN RECYCLING PLASTIC BAGS IS NOT THE BEST SOLUTION.  Plastic can only be recycled a few times before it can no longer be recycled and is then left to biodegrade on it’s own.  Also the process of recycling a plastic bag uses up energy and natural resources as well.  

This leads some to think, “Okay well then I’ll just use a paper bag.â€Â  Unfortunately, the use of paper bags are harming are environment, as well.  Some research has shown that 14 million trees were cut down in order to produce 10 billion paper grocery bags us by America in only one year.  When manufacturing paper bags the process can use up to 4 times as much energy to construct a paper bag as compared to a plastic bag.  And when recycling paper bags 84 times as much energy  is needed as compared to a recycling plastic bag.  This leads some to say that paper bags may even be more harmful then plastic bags.  

All this information hopefully leads you to only one conclusion.  The great news is YOU CAN START MAKING AN IMPACT TODAY.  It seems like such an easy task to carry small items, instead of using a bag.  When grocery shopping re-use cloth bags, many are now available to purchase at all grocery stores for only a dollar or two.  If you start this habit today, in just one week you will start to think, “Wow I wish I would have started this sooner.â€Â  If you want to go one step farther, tell a friend and spread the information.  If you liked this article then please forward it, to a friend.

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