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  MyGreeniacs Login Register for Free! Share |Home GreeniacsArticles Consumer Products Paper Bag UseWritten by Laura Li Thursday, 25 April 2013 Paper Bag Use Across the globe, plastic bag bans are being enacted, eliminating single use plasticbags in most grocery and merchandise stores. Most of the time the plastic bags are replaced with paper bags, often at a charge of 10 cents. However, this is by no means promoting theuse of paper bags over plastic bags. Nonetheless, many people see plastic bag bans to bepromoting the use of paper bags and has led many to believe that paper bags are good forthe environment. The truth is, neither of these options are environmentally friendly, asinstead people should be using their own reusable bags for all shopping trips. Ironically,manufacturers prefer plastic bags because they are much cheaper. So, why do we use paperbags and what is the effect of paper bag usage on the environment? 1 Paper Bag History The paper bag was invented in 1852—over a century before plastic bags came intoproduction—in the United States and was popularized because of a machine that made thesepaper bags easy to produce. 2  Paper bags became even more popular after the invention ofthe flat bottom bag and the paper bag with handles, which came within 60 years of its initialinvention. After the plastic bag came into circulation in the 1960s, it became a cheaper andlighter choice for markets. 3  However, nation after nation, city after city, has decided to banthese bags to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags, allowing consumers to pay asmall fee to use a paper bag instead. Effects of Paper Bags on the Environment The paper industry cannot say that it is guilt free when it comes to environmentaldegradation. Paper bags actually take four times the amount of energy and twenty times theamount of fresh water needed to make plastic bags. Moreover, a 2008 study found that weuse an astounding 14 million trees annually to feed our paper bag industry. 4 However, plasticbag production requires millions of barrels of oil annually, and oil is an extremely limitedresource and a fossil fuel. Again, juxtapose this with the fact that the weight of paper bagscauses the amount of fuel needed to transfer them to be higher than that required totransport plastic bags. 5  In terms of pollution, studies show that producing paper emits 80   SEARCH GREENIACS.COM search Greeniacs.com... Browse all Guides   Browse all Articles LATEST NEWS Tropical storm Trudy forms offMexico's Pacific coastHurricane Gonzalo scores bull's eye hiton Bermuda We could talk about the environmentalimpact of toast, or we could not hatelifeSo long, Soylent. World remembersthat eating rulesEye of weakening Hurricane Gonzalosmashes into Bermuda Now your smartphone can be fairtrade, tooTwo Years After Hurricane Sandy Hitthe U.S., What Lessons Can We LearnFrom the Deadly Storm?Search Widens for Nepal BlizzardSurvivorsBeing Gullah or Geechee, Once LookedDown On, Now a Treasured HeritageDot Earth Blog: Does the Anthropocene,the Age of Humans, Deserve a GoldenSpike?Dot Earth Blog: Never Mind theAnthropocene – Beware the ‘Manthropocene’Texas Plant to Capture, and ThenReuse, Carbon GREEN FACTS HomeThe GreeniacsNews & CommunityGreeniacsArticlesGreeniacsGuidesVideos Username Password Remember me sign in Forgot Password?Plastic bags and other plasticgarbage thrown into the ocean kill asmany as 1,000,000 sea creaturesevery year.  percent more greenhouse gases and 70 percent more air pollutants in generalthan plastic bags do, contributing to global problems like acid rain . 6  The paper versus plastic bag debate has been argued at great length with many differentopinions regarding the bigger environmental hazard, as there are many aspects to consider.Paper is made from wood, a naturally grown resource which is also more likely to berecycled, even though the recycling process for paper bags is highly inefficient. 7  Not onlythis, but paper bags actually take up seven times more landfill space than plastic bags. 8  Onthe other side of the argument, only five percent of plastic bags are recycled 9  and if they are,the amount of damage they cause to the recycling facilities makes most recycling servicesrefuse them regardless. Furthermore, while people argue that paper bags are known to bebiodegradable, if they end up in the landfill there is no difference in biodegradability betweenpaper and plastic because the paper will not be exposed to air and the natural elements which aid in decomposition. 10   11 As stated in many articles, plastic is not good for the environment. In comparison topaper bags however, the numbers seem to make plastic bags a better option. However, thisdepends on location. If you are located in a coastal city, the high likelihood of these bagsbeing carried to the ocean and the direct negative effects they can have on biodiversity and the general health of the ocean is higher than the negative effects of paper bags. Remember that reusing a product is much more productive and sustainable than spendingmore energy to recycle it or even composting it, so here are some great ways to reuse theplastic and paper bags that you have already have.- Paper bags are a great way to encourage the ripening of fruit by enclosing them intheir own ethylene gas. 12 - Use paper bags to separate your recyclables from your trash!- Paper bags can also be a great way to protect your books or the books of your kids.Just create a book cover by following the instructions here .- Plastic bags can be used to be trash bags. Although this will ultimately lead them tothe landfill, the largest threat plastic imposes on our planet is its mobility and largechance of ending up in the ocean.When it comes down to it, neither option—paper or plastic—is environmentally friendly.Single-use bags are contributing to a large portion of the landfill on our planet. If used, it isimportant to always recycle them because both paper and plastic can and should berecycled, or reused. However, reusable canvas bags  are the best option when it comes toshopping and being green. Browse all Greeniacs Articles  _______________________________________________________________________________ 1   http://www.projectgreenbag.com/brownsville-texas-plastic-bag-ban-in-effect/ 2 http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/paperbag.htm 3  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_shopping_bag ; http://www.reuseit.com/learn-more/myth-busting/why-paper-is-no-better-than-plastic 4  http://www.reuseit.com/learn-more/myth-busting/why-paper-is-no-better-than-plastic 5  http://www.nbcnews.com/id/18538484/#.UWwExrVJOAg 6  http://www.deq.state.mi.us/documents/deq-ess-p2-recycling-PaperPlasticSummary_2.pdf 7  http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/paper-plastic1.htm 8  http://www.interplas.com/packaging-earth-friendly-recyclable-plastic-bags 9  http://www.reuseit.com/learn-more/myth-busting/why-paper-is-no-better-than-plastic  10   http://www.doobybrain.com/2008/02/08/paper-or-plastic/ 11  http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2007/05/paper_or_plastic_which_is_best.html 12 http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/20-more-ways-to-reuse- old-plastic-paper-bags-10000001088458/page2.html Add your comment Only registered users can write comments.Please login or register. Click here to Register.   Click here to login. Last Updated ( Thursday, 25 April 2013 )Home | Site Map | FAQ | Contact Greeniacs | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | The Greeniacs | News & Community | Greeniac Nation Store Copyright © 2014 Greeniacs. All Rights Reserved. Greeniac, Greeniacs, Greeniac Nation are trademarks of Greeniacs.

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