By now most of you know how I feel about plastic. You know the emoji that looks unamused. Just add that guy to any instance where I see one-time, single-use plastic.
It’s rare when I don’t bring my own reusable containers and bags. When I forget (or think I won’t need one) I end up taking purchased items and cramming them in spots like pockets, armpits, bras and cleavage before I take a plastic bag. But sometimes I succumb to the paper bag. So I am ok, right?
Take this snippet from Huffington Post quoting Eric Goldstein, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council:
‘If all we do is switch from plastic to paper, we’re solving one set of environmental problems and adding others,’ he said.
The harvesting, production and manufacturing of paper bags all take a toll on the environment.
‘Large amounts of water pollution and air pollution are produced in the manufacturing and transportation of paper,’ said Goldstein. ‘It’s an energy-intensive process to take a piece of lumber and turn it into a smooth, flat, printable piece of paper.’
The process often involves transportation for hundreds of miles — from the forest to the consumer — which has its own set of environmental implications, including air pollution and global warming by way of carbon dioxide emissions.Are Plastic, Paper Or Reusable Bags Better For The Environment?
I have said it before, refusing needs be added to the 3 Rs. We need to refuse before we lean on reducing and reusing and certainly before recycling. But if we have the item, use that son of a gun until its down to little, itty, bitty pieces. Then, and only then compost it, recycle it or if need be, toss it.
My uncle always gets a paper bag from the LCBO, so while I can’t change that, I do request he save them. I collect all my paper baggies from bulk shopping from the odd time I do not bring a mason jar for that item. A lot of mainstream grocery stores, bakeries and coffee shops carry baked goods and bread in paper bags. Coffee beans sometimes come in paper bags (with biodegradable lining).
The best thing to do is to reuse these paper bags as much as possible and have them become an alternative to what would have been a plastic item:
- Line compost bins. Stop using “compostable” plastic bags. They’re really no better for the planet than traditional plastic. The key concerns include the terminology itself, the lack of appropriate recycling or composting infrastructure and toxicity of degradable plastics. Instead, collect old newspapers, flyers, sugar bags, takeout menus, kids’ art and paper bags.
- Bathroom sorting. This is such a simple place to create a three-waste system. Instead of buying cutesy waste bins which stink, need to be washed and are probably cheaply and unethically made, just reuse the same brown bag for toilet paper rolls and other recycling items like tissue boxes, one for garbage and one for collecting biodegradable bits like facial tissue, cotton balls and hair.
- Sharing and swapping. My neighbours grow a lot of veggies. Instead of leaving me a plastic baggie with cherry tomatoes, I just gave my neighbour a bunch of used bags and in return I get these ruby jewels.
This is easy on your wallet because you’re saving money from buying plastic and “biodegradable” plastic. This is simply easy to do, and Mother Nature says thanks. This momma says it’s as easy as packing a brown bag lunch.