Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Green Choices Wednesday
At one time, the question "paper or plastic?" was commonly asked in stores. Currently, paper bags are used much less, and plastic bags are most commonly used. "Paper or plastic" isn't a good question anyway; they are both poor choices, because they both generate waste after a single use, and both consume resources and energy.
The relevant choice is "plastic/paper or reuseable?"
Plastic bags are everywhere! They create ugly trash along our roads, in our waterways, hanging in trees and bushes, and caught in fences!
Plastic bags also exist in abundance in less visible places. Hundreds of billions are used every year. Most of them are not recycled, so they go into landfills. They take hundreds of years to completely decompose, and as they decompose, they release toxins into the soil and groundwater.
Plastics pollution is an ever-growing menace to sea life and birds. Millions of marine animals and other wildlife die from strangulation or choking after becoming entangled in bags, or ingesting them. My thanks to Zach W. for referring me to this link to NOAA's Marine Debris website, a good source of information on plastic and other types of marine debris.
In the photo above, the plastic bag on the left is made made from oil, a precious and dwindling resource, in a process that creates pollutants. The distribution and disposal processes waste even more resouces and energy. It's one more example of a disposable product that converts resources into garbage after a single use! The bag on the right is used over and over, and is made of recycled polyolefin, so it creates another outlet for recycled materials. Cloth bags come in many varieties and are also good choices.
Some Earth-friendly activities require some sacrifice. Not so, in this case. Carrying reusable bags when shopping is one of the easiest ways to make a big difference. We keep bags in our vehicles so that we have them wherever we shop.
Please consider replacing disposable products with reusable ones!
Think Green and live Green!