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Which Shopping Bag is Best? – Plastic, Paper, or Cotton


Plastic carrier bags are slammed by environmentalists and activists across the globe and have a bad reputation indeed, but a complete ban on them would mean negative effects on the convenience of consumers and the economy as well, without making any significant improvements to our surroundings.

We aren’t supporting the rampant usage of plastic bags, but the alternatives that most suggest aren’t necessarily better. Not only are there environmental issues to consider, but there are situations too where plastic works better than cotton or paper.

Plastic Has a Better Carbon Footprint

In an interview posted on the website of the University of Oregon, Chemistry professor David Tyler revealed how plastic bags produce less impact on the environment than cotton bags, paper bags, or other similar packaging materials. They need fewer chemicals, use up less water and produce less greenhouse gas than the rest, and reports show that plastic has half the carbon footprint than its other “sustainable” options.

Another 2011 report titled Comparison of Environmental Impact of Plastic, Paper and Cloth Bags suggests that it takes almost four times the energy to produce a paper bag than it takes to produce a plastic bag. Plastic bags, as per the report, cause climate damage 200 times more than reusable bags.

Assuming that plastic bags are the worst just because they are made of polythene and do not break down easily makes sense. Yet doesn’t justify banning plastic carrier bags completely.

On the other hand, one has to keep in mind that postal bags or mailing bags are some of the sturdiest packages to send your documents or valuables in these oil-proof and waterproof packages.

The Paper Stays Longer in Landfills

Paper, which we usually know to degenerate rapidly, is not true. According to a news website, paper bags take up almost nine times more space than plastic and take a long time to disintegrate. With a ban on plastic, if there is a rapid increase of paper bags. It could make things worse the way they fill up the landfills.

The Reusable Bags Aren’t a Great Choice in Terms Of Good Sanitation

An article by The Reason Foundation says that reusable bags in tropical countries are a breeding ground for microorganisms. If these bags are used while you are grocery shopping, one needs to be more concerned. The bacteria and virus can, not just only spread to your wings but to the shopping carts and checkout counters as well which may affect other’s food too (by transference of germs as they tend to stay on a surface for a few days).

Only A Few Know That the Reusable Bags Need to Be Washed

According to a clinic’s report, almost 97 percent of people using reusable bags are unaware of the fact that the reusable bags need to be wash-ed and sanitized regularly. When used for buying raw meat and fish, and then vegetables or vice versa, the chances of bacteria growth and spread increases even more. Thus, it is suggested to use separate bags for separate products to avoid any sort of cross-infection.

Not All Would Be Able to Afford

Banning plastic carrier bags completely would mean that everyone would need to purchase reusable bags. For people who are tight on the budget. A need to buy shopping bags to buy groceries every time would mean they could bring fewer groceries back home. Also, the need to buy bags to be put in trash cans and for other purposes. That could be easily done with free plastic bags can make things difficult for many.

Plastic bags are reusable too apart from being durable and functional. And in some cases, they work so much better than paper or cloth bags.

Suppose you have wet items that you need to separate from your dry items. Plastic bags will not leak unless there’s some tear or hole. But paper bags will leak (can even rip) and cloth bags to leak if things are dripping. They can be reused in trash cans instead of buying separate bags. Cleaning after your dog on a walk too is so much better with plastic carrier bags. Reusing thin plastic bags because of their durability and functionality as compared to paper. Cuts down the carbon footprint, even more, making them a smart choice, when used sensibly.

Packaging Express

Packaging Express is a leading distributor of packaging products that sell packaging essentials at a wholesale price all over the United Kingdom. From cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, plastic carrier bags, corrugated paper, envelopes, etc., to other industrial packaging supplies, you’ll find everything in one place.

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