So, I don't know about you, but every time I'm faced with the question: "paper or plastic?" (in those supermarkets that actually offer the choice) I panic, momentarily, trying to remember which is supposed to be the more 'eco-friendly' choice. I usually settle for plastic, because I seem to remember that plastic is the 'greener choice', but apparently I'm wrong.
So, paper or plastic, which is it? Actually, it depends on where you live! According to Allen Hershkowitz, of the Natural Resources Defense Council:
Plastic bags threaten wildlife along the coasts, so if that's where you call home, Hershkowitz says the choice should be paper. In the heartland, he says it's plastic.There are pros and cons to both:
--Paper bags generate 70 percent more air pollutants and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bagsAs for plastic:
--It takes more than four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as it does to manufacture a plastic bag.
--Paper takes up a lot more landfill space: 2,000 plastic bags weigh 30 pounds, 2,000 paper bags weigh 280 pounds.
--Plastics do NOT biodegrade. Rather, they photodegrade, a process in which sunlight breaks down plastic into smaller and smaller pieces.So what's the solution? Canvas or cloth bags are the greenest option, but choose according to where you live, and try to re-use and recycle whichever one you do choose.
--It can take up to 1,000 years for a high-density polyethylene plastic bag to break down in the environment.
--Plastic bags are on the top 10 list of most common trash items along the American coastline (both on land and in the water).