Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Green Choices Wednesday

                         This..............or This?

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!


zachary said...

great post Vern. I personally can't think of one good reason to use plastic bags, yet they are so widely used. I can only assume it is because they are cheap to produce.

What I enjoy most about reusable bags is their indirect affect on diet. If vowing to only use cloth, then you probably only take 1-2 bags to the store, limiting what you carry out, subtracting all the garbage you don't really need to eat, because who carries 25 reusable cloth bags into the store? That would certainly shine a light on the voluntarily unhealthy crowd.

Also, you have probably seen this, but here is another place plastic bags go:

Vern said...

Zach, although I have read news and magazine articles with some of this information, I had not seen the NOAA Marine Debris site.

Thanks for sharing this! I edited this post and added a link to reference the NOAA site.

Travis and Teniah said...

NZ is all over this - EVERYONE has these canvas bags and you have to actually pay for every plastic bag you get at the grocery! (This is also a great advertisement venue and lots of folks give them out for free with their logo etc....)

Hopefully America will also pick up on this concept!!

Another great "green" post!

Vern said...

That's great that the entire country is on board with a great Earth-friendly method like this! Kudos to New Zealand! Thanks, Teniah!