Any interest in the paper vs plastic debate? Comments? I personally prefer paper bags, as they can be recycled curbside (and hold other paper recyclables at the same time), hold more, and come from a renewable resource. Then again, plastic bags serve more post-grocery purposes, and are fashioned out of a byproduct of the petroleum refining process.
The bottom line is: are you planning to reuse the bags (plastic) or just recycle (paper)?
Editor's Note: What do you think about the debate over paper vs plastic bags, including the new trend toward reusable grocery bags? Post your thoughts here!
I try very hard to use the reusable grocery store bags. I put them in my trunk and usually can remember to bring them in with me. I think they are much easier to use than either paper OR plastic, and I feel good that they are used again and again.
For the times when I forget my bags, I usually ask for paper, because I can use it for corralling my paper recycling. I also put my potatoes in a brown paper bag, to keep them cool and dark. They are great for an impromptu gift wrap, for school projects and just to color on or use in crafts.
Despite this, I wind up with a shocking number of plastic bags. In Oregon, we have to return bottles for a deposit. When we do the bottles, we usually gather up any leftover plastic grocery sacks and recycle them at the same time. I have used plastic bags for packing dishes in a pinch and we use them for small garbage cans and also to clean up after the dog in our back yard.
Paper's great! But I love to use & reuse the plastic bags over & over again. Then, when I'm done with them because they have holes I'll either crochet a rug or a bag from them or put them into the "plastic bag recycling bin" at my grocery store. Where they use them to make plastic benches to sit on & other wonderful things.
* I think most people use their plastic bags over & over again but I've seen a large trend in people bringing their own reusable fabric bags when they buy from me at the Saturday Market. They tend to shy away from using any more bags that they need to. I think most people are aware & will do this on their own without any legislation. (like in Oregon)
Neither: reusable fabric bags, not the cheapy China things, but real cloth that can be washed and dried. Trees are not a renewable resource. They take 1/2 of our lifetimes to grow to a decent size.
I make my own from recycled fabrics. I am a small business owner and I sell them. I've been using the same ones for about 15 years. They still look good and I can keep them clean.
Another point here: if you use reusable bags...please wash them....you can make yourself sick from bacteria absorbed into the bags with meat and vegetable juices. That includes the cheapy China ones.
Don't kill the trees, don't fill our oceans, waterways and forests with plastic. Use recycled fabrics, make your own or buy them and gift them. Wrap your gifts in them as well. Your carbon footprint is lowered everytime you use one.
If I'm not using my cloth bags, I ask for plastic. I use them around the house for small trash cans as well as turning them into Plarn. Paper to me is a waste of space and resources.
Paper vs. plastic isn't an issue for me; I can't remember the last time I even saw paper bags available in the supermarket!
I've been using cloth bags for years now. Plastic is a waste, especially when the cashiers do the bagging. They seem to aim for about 1 item per bag. It's not just for the environment, the cloth bags are sturdier and easier to carry than plastic. No more rips in the bottom or raw hands from carrying heavy bags. I don't have piles of plastic bags taking up drawer space in the house anymore. The plastic bags I do get I use to line waste baskets. Remembering to bring the cloth bags shopping can be a problem at first but once you start it's easy to remember as your purse.
I've wrestled with that concern for years and usually get plastic when I'm given a choice. Usually the grocery stores where I shop only have plastic. I use them for many things around the house.
Paper bags have ripped on me so often that I really don't care for them at all. I don't know why it's taken me so long to get the idea to make some bags but that will be my next sewing project.
Here are directions for making your own reusable shopping bag:
I have thought about using the cloth bags but find I have so many uses for the plastic and paper bags. I do a lot of ebaying and use the plastic bags for packing and the paper ones for wrapping the boxes for shipping. I also use the plastic ones for lining small wastebaskets. I do agree though they seem to want to put just a few items in each bag when using plastic.
Okay, this is a real pet peeve of mine. I don't think many people know just how long it is predicted to take one plastic bag to degrade- it's 75-100 yrs! So every time we put doggy poop in these bags, we are taking something completly organic (gross, but organic) and saving it in a plastic keeper. I'm not attacking anyone, I'm just pointing out what dawned on me when I heard how long it takes for those plastic bags to break down.
The second point is that when they do break down, they leave behind chemicals and toxins that end up in our waterways and soil. I too use them up in any way that I can and make them last and last and last. But for the most part I take my own cotton canvas bags to the store with me.
Once when I was at Walmart the cashier, who happened to be from Germany, told me that when she went back to Germany for a vacation she found that they charge for each bag they have to provide, so people bring their own. We talk about using less oil, why not include this petroleum product on the list of things to cut back on.
Paper is better than plastic because it is at least a natural resource. But as one other person pointed out, it sure takes a long time to grow just one tree. Why squander one more thing that God gave us to use and take care of? And when we use paper bags instead of cotton reusable bags that's just what we're doing- squandering a natural resource.
The cashiers aren't happy when they see me coming with my 10-12 cotton bags to be used instead of their convenient twirling bag dispenser. Its not that I don't understand their aggravation, I just think the use of these bags matters so much that it outweighs the inconvenience to them (really, no disrespect meant to them at all).
Its important and easy. Everytime I come out of the store having used my own cotton bags instead of theirs I'm proud of myself. I know I kept 10-12 bags from having to be manufactured because of my effort.
Hey, and you can make dog leashes as well as rugs out of the leftover plastic bags. The leashes are great, made with macrame square knots!
I have 5 large cloth bags that I use as much as possible. However I do forget sometimes and then I request paper bags. I use them for putting in my shredded paper and bring them out to the composter. After I dump them in, I also shred the bags and compost them too, or use them for mulch.
I use both! I reuse plastic bags for small trash cans and packing. I eBay a lot and use the brown paper bags for wrapping and for gift wrapping occasionally.
It was hard to get in to the habit but I now carry cloth bags in my car and when unpack them at home after shopping I hang them on the front door to remember to put them in the car again. I don't use them just for grocery shopping but also at the pharmacy, convenience store, Penneys, etc.
Tell stores you shop at that they could make some money from selling cloth bags with their own logos on them and be saving money and the environment because they won't have to be buying the paper or plastic bags in the first place. And Safeway gives me three cents off my purchase for each bag I bring in even though it's a Walgreens bag!
We all really need to get more serious about pestering everyone by living a good example and respond kindly to questions and comments about using your own bags and to think about all our 'conveniences of paper or plastic choices' which are so wasteful and harmful to our environment :-(
Besides the choice of paper or plastic, do you know it takes a disposable diaper almost a century to break down, a decade for a cigarette butt, almost five centuries for a plastic bottle and styrofoam never decomposes :-(
Reality is that we have become a throw away society but we can change it by refusing and/or reusing ;-)
Reusable bags! When they started trying to save the trees they made a bigger mess with plastic. It may take a long time, but trees have been renewing themselves for millions of years. The dinosaurs have not.
Many Church thrift stores will gladly reuse your paper, plastic, and cloth bags. I save every bag I get and regularly drop them off when I am visiting a thrift store. I never recycle newspapers either, those go to the thrift store as well. When I have collected a good amount, I put them in my car so they are available to drop off the next time I am thrift store shopping.
The reusable bags are easy to put in your purse, or carry over your shoulder when you exit your car. It's a habit one has to form, I have forgotten before. Also, I do not take a bag for anything very small or easy to carry. I live overseas in a military community and people have adapted very quickly. Stores charge for plastic bags here as well (very little) and locals appreciate it when Americans understand this policy and provide their own bags. I am able to make my own bags, but find that so many places give away a cloth bag that I could use for groceries. So I have a hodgepodge of purchased and "give away" type bags, that serve me well and have been used dozens if not hundreds of times in the past few years.
All that I still get plastic bags at some places, lots of store pack meat or veggies in a special sack which I don't need since I will be laundering my bags. But I reuse these bags as well.
Who says you can't recycle plastic bags? I reuse a couple of plastic bags; but, the majority of them I recycle.
Recycled plastic bags are made into a lot of items - clothing, plastic decks, garden stepping stones and ornaments, etc. And, all you have to do to recycle then is drop them off on your way into most grocery stores, Wal-Mart, etc. You have to walk past the recycling bin on your way into the store anyway!
I personally like paper. I re-use them to soak up oil from fried foods. They take the place of paper towels, which are too expensive for me. I can't stand plastic. They get eveywhere. I would prefer a box or those canvas bags for groceries!! Then I can leave them in back of my van.
I love, love, love the reusable canvas bags for grocery shopping or other shopping. My reason is not necessarily for the environment, although that in itself is a great reason. I live in the 3rd floor of an apartment complex and these bags hold so much more than plastic and SO MUCH MORE STABLE than paper, so I can put a week's worth of groceries in just one or two bags! Then I can sling the bags over my shoulder like a giant purse and start climbing those stairs.
BONUS: This system works like a squats machine at the gym, so my thighs and butt get a great workout!
I use all the plastic bags I get at the store. My mother uses adult diapers, my cat dirties her box, I store produce and leftovers in the bags. The kitchen ones I rinse out and re-use. I can't wait until I can stop using these landfill-fillers, but right now I'm glad they're here.
In a perfect world, I'd prefer paper. In this world paper bags get wet and rip open. They also tend to carry cock roach eggs into my home. paper is great for insulating frozen food and ice cream. Plastic can be recycled into trash bags.
If you check out this video you will never use a plastic bag for ANYTHING again. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6FcqI_ByY8) I used to use them for my trash cans,dirty diapers, doggie poop, kitchen waste, etc. But now I DO NOT take plastic bags from any store. I either carry my items in my hands or use the nylon net bags pictured. I got my bags at a store where everything is $1. You get 4 bags and they hold lots...even pretty heavy items. Please Don't take plastic even if you plan to re-use. They NEVER go away and eventually get into our environment one way or another. It is sickening what we have done to our beautiful God-created world!(Thanks for letting me rant)
Super strong - they never tear
You can find cool patterns to make your own.
Or go to www.etsy.com and support a crafter who's making them.
I also found a few folks on Etsy who make smaller bags to put fruit, vegetables and bulk items into. Just pre weigh them so you can tell the cashier how much to deduct from the scale.
I keep a set or two in the car for those spur of the moment shopping trips.
All of my bags are pretty and colorful. None of those dull beige shopping bags for me! I also like longer handles for my shoulder. So making your own to be the same size as a paper grocery bag is the best.
I reuse the plastic bags for garbage too, but have noticed that the bags are getting thinner and thinner, especially at Fred Meyer's. By the time I get home, there are holes in every one of them and then they aren't good for "wet garbage." I think stores are trying to save money by making the bags thinner, but then the checker has to use more of them to hold the groceries so it doesn't make much sense.
I know it's almost fashionable to use cloth bags for grocery shopping - but in Europe they buy much smaller quantities of groceries, usually shopping daily - and here we make weekly runs - How do I know how many cloth bags to try to bring? I do collect and re-use small plastic bags for all sorts of things. I just packed up my vitamins in one - and we use them for trash and other purposes - and even as flying toilets in an emergency on the boat - and we recycle the rest of them - And as our trash molders out in a large open trash container (for the whole apartment) for a week, putting it in plastic is the only sensible thing to do to keep down flies and so on.
Especially, as often towards the end of the week, we have to put our closed plastic bags on the top of the full container! (And this is in the S. California climate!) If the ones we get have holes, we often double them. I understand about leaching chemicals - but is that anyway addressed in the manufacturing process? We avoid buying plastic bottles, however - glass is so much easier to recycle. I do wish there were more glass, not plastic bottles - what can one do with them? A puzzlement. I wish I could read a scientific view of this whole dilemma. The arguments I mostly read are emotional, not factual.
I reuse paper bags over and over again at the grocery store. I keep an entire stack on the floor of the backseat of my car since the bags slowly migrate back inside my house over time.
However, I still love to use the plastic bags for lining the bathroom trash can and cleaning out my cat's litter box (I actually clean it out directly into the bathroom trash and then take it all out which helps make sure the bathroom trash gets emptied regularly).
Between these two practices, I no longer have any problem with bags accumulating. Of course, not everyone has a cat (but that's fixable!).
Cloth bags for me. I have many more than I ever use for this reason, I try to put them all in the trunk of the car. I sometimes forget to take them back after I bring in groceries but I always have spares in the trunk. I have them in both cars.
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