Paper or Plastic - What's a Green Girl To Do?
As green consumer choices continue to permeate our shopping experience, my awareness is battling my conscience. Everytime I checkout at the grocery store and they ask the inevitable paper or plastic question, I am overcome with uncertainty not knowing what the right choice is. Unable to bear the guilt any longer, I ventured into the green blogosphere on a quest to find out once and for all what is best, paper or plastic?
Plastic grocery bags consume 40% less energy to produce and generate 80% less solid waste than paper bags
Plastic bags can take 1,000 years to decompose whereas paper bags take about a month
According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year
According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually resulting in an estimated cost to retailers at $4 billion
According to the American Forest and Paper Association, in 1999 the U.S. alone used 10 billion paper grocery bags, requiring 14 million trees to be cut down
Apparently I am not the only one feeling overwhelmed with the paper/plastic debacle. IKEA recently announced they will charge U.S. customers five cents for disposable plastic shopping bags in an effort to discourage the use of these bags. IKEA said the decision to stop giving away free bags to customers aimed to reduce the estimated 100 billion bags thrown away by all U.S. consumers each year. Treehugger reported that proceeds of up to $1.75 million from the bag campaign will go to American Forests, the nation’s oldest non-profit citizens conservation organization, to plant trees to restore forests and offset CO2 emissions. To help alter customer behavior and endorse environmentally responsible habits, IKEA will be selling its reusable ‘Big Blue Bag’ for 59c, reduced from 99c.
So what’s a green girl to do? For better or worse, the answer lies in a high quality reusable bag. According to 1 Bag at a Time which has sold over 300,000 reusable bags, over the next 2 years these bags will save 124,800,000 plastic bags, enough petroleum to drive a car 8,914,286 miles, and up to $21,216,000 in disposal costs (which is enough money to pay 455 full time teachers salaries).
In addition to 1 Bag at a Time, we also have our friends at idealbite to help us keep our shopping stylish and hip. Check out b.happybags and blue lotus for the latest shopping bag fashions and reusablebags.com for more information and resources.