Reuse is Key to Bag Question

Warwick Advertiser letter to editor   2008

Reuse is Key to Bag Question

by Mary Makofske

Thanks to James Luce for pointing out that brown paper grocery bags are not bleached and are not produced from premium lumber. However, according to the EPA, it takes more than four times the energy to manufacture a brown paper bag than it takes to manufacture a plastic one. The weight and bulk of paper also result in greater transportation costs (gasoline) and more space in landfills, if the bags are not recycled. The good news is that more and more paper is being recycled, but both paper and plastic can have negative impacts.

Whether paper or plastic is more environmentally harmful depends on what criteria you use, but one thing is clear. Using any bag only once and discarding it wastes valuable resources and energy and contributes to a growing disposal problem. Just being aware of what we’re discarding (and how) can reduce pollution, energy use, and carbon emissions. While some changes require action by governments and industry, it’s encouraging to know that we as individuals can make a difference, and I’m glad to see that people are thinking about what they can do.


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