Saturday, October 06, 2007

Paper vs. Plastic...the Essential Question?

I usually grocery shop at Sunset (a local chain), although at least once a month I hit Jewel or Dominick's. At Sunset, not only do they bag your groceries for you, they even take them out of the cart -- serious luxury for this girl! The other thing they ask you at Sunset is...."paper or plastic?" I must admit, I always thought that paper was the better choice...until I read these statistics:

plastic bags consume 40% less energy to produce than paper pags, and
plastic bags generate 80% less solid waste than paper bags.
as waste, paper bags produce 70 times more air pollutants than plastic bags, and
as waste, paper bags produce 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags.
Plastic takes up to 1,000 years to decompose!

(stats from the Clean Green Bag)

The final answer...neither is really good. In fact, both are pretty darn bad.

So today, at Dominick's, I picked up four of their re-usable tote bags, and the nice lady loaded my groceries into them. My thoughts:

- What would have probably filled at least 10 plastic bags all fit into 4 reusable totes and one plastic bag.
- They were pretty heavy but totally held up.
- The handles made them easy to carry.
- For only 99 cents a piece, they were a great deal!

Are they sturdy enough to hold up? Listen to this little facty: "A sturdy, reusable bag needs only be used 11 times to have a lower environmental impact than using 11 disposable plastic bags." (The Sierra Club) I think my bags will make it.

I'm so excited for them!
(My only other question: Will Sunset care if I bring in Dominick's bags? Maybe that will convince them to get their own!!!)

Here are some links to sites where you can get reusable bags or learn more about them...

A bag roundup from this week's Chicago Tribune
Skeeda re-usable bags

Here's my question for you: Would you use these bags? What would get you to do so?
AND...what do you do with newspapers for recycling? That's the only thing I use the paper bags for. I can use the bags that come with the newspapers for diapers...


TX Poppet said...

Yep. I'm a green girl. Of course the truth is I only use canvas bags because I think they are pretty (mine are monogrammed). Seriously, I've never understood why everyone in Europe brings their own bags, but here we are so wasteful. Ikea is trying to wean Dallas off of bags, but it doesn't seem to be working as well as it has in other cities. Still, it's a great initiative. Thanks for stopping by my blog, hope to see you again!

Andrew & Alaina said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I've been thinking alot about enviro. issues and specifically what our role (as a family) is related to the environment. Part of the result has been implementing reusable bags - I'm still working on remembering to bring them with me. :)

chanale said...

I have 4 large, heavy-duty hemp bags and 3 or 4 net market bags. They were fairly expensive (I got them somewhere online), but I use the hemp bags most days of the week: grocery store, CSA pick-up, library books, tote for park outings, etc. After a year of frequent use, they still look like I just bought them yesterday.

Our county recycling center just has giant bins sorted by item type, so there's no need for bags. We set up a little recycling center in the corner of our garage with a plastic box for each item type, then when enough collects (about twice a month), my husband just loads the boxes into the car and empties the contents into the recycling center bins. We've had the same plastic boxes for 4 years now, so it has worked out pretty well for us.

Petula Wright said...

I just had a "duh" moment!! Why didn't I think of buying more than one tote bag!! LOL. How silly of me. I always forget to take my tote bag to the store. I've tried keeping it in the car or next to the door, but nothing works. Then I said, "Well what's the big deal on small trips!" DUH!!

Thanks for this! Totes are the way to go!