Some people still wonder, paper or plastic bags? The answer to that is neither. Reusable bags made of recycled material are environmentally better. There came a time when the environmentally conscious were persuaded that paper was the more ecological choice, but with recent arguments, this is not the right choice. On the other hand, some consumers have come to rely on plastic bags as trash can liners, as pet waste disposable bags or even as lunch sacks. But reusing it twice, thrice or even 10 times doesn’t solve the bigger problem.

Let us discuss some pros and cons for paper and plastic and understand why reusable bags are the better option.

Paper

Image: Nimbus Eco

Pros

  • Paper is more likely to be recycled
  • It naturally biodegrades, while plastic does not.
  • Harmful chemicals are not required to produce paper bags

Cons

  • It requires millions of trees to produce and the loss of trees means more greenhouses gases being released into the environment.
  • Manufacturing paper requires more energy, generating 50 times more water and 70 times more air pollutants in the process.
  • More methane is emitted in landfills as paper bag decomposes.

Plastic

Image: thegreentimes.co.za

Pros

  • Plastic bags have handles, which make our lives easier to carry our goods.
  • It uses less energy to recycle.
  • Its global environmental effect is less, as plastic bags use less energy to manufacture and does not require much water to produce.
  • For manufacturers, it is easer and less costly to transport.

Cons

  • One of the obvious reasons, plastic is forever. It does not breakdown and is sure to outlive everyone.
  • Rarely recycled.
  • Requires harmful chemicals to produce plastic.
  • It is one of the biggest threats to wildlife and marine life. It kills a million sea creatures annually!
  • Plastic not only clogs our sewer pipes, it is also the cause of unhealthy water for us all.

There have been many debates and long studies on this “paper and plastic controversy,” but above all that; there is a better alternative – reusable bags. No matter what kind of material your reusable bag is made of, as long as you reuse it for long periods of time, it will be better for the planet than any type of disposable bag.

So, if you have to choose between paper and plastic, please say no to both. Make the conscious effort to bring your reusable bags every time you go out. Save the planet one shopping at a time.