Paper or Plastic

It’s Green Tip Tuesday!

How many times have you been in the grocery been asked “Do you want paper or plastic?” The answer may not be as clear as once thought.

Did you know that it takes more energy to make paper bags? The process also requires lots of water, not to mention trees!

So then is plastic better?

Plastic bags are made from oil and use an estimed 12 million barrels to produce the plastic used in the United States alone! Plus, once they are used, they can end up in bodies of water and harm the marine life.

So, which is it then… paper or plastic?

There are times when it is appropriate to use and there are times when it is better to use the other.

When to pick plastic:

  • The paper-bag option is made from timber instead of post-consumer recycled fiber (and it’s not in danger of ending up in an ocean). Look for a label on the bag or ask your store.
  • You are more likely to reuse a plastic bag than one made of paper. Consider using them for your trash instead of spending money on new plastic garbage liners at the store. In that scenario, you’re getting two uses out of the plastic bag, so it’s like having a bag made from 50 percent recycled content, says Martin Wolf, Director of Product & Environmental Technology at Seventh Generation.
  • You can recycle plastic bags more easily than paper.

When to choose paper:

  • The bag is made from post-consumer recycled fiber.
  • You live in a place where there is a risk that a plastic bag might end up in a large body of water.
  • You can reuse or recycle a paper bag more easily than one made of plastic

If you want to avoid this mental debate with yourelf at the grocery checkout line, bring a reusable bag! You can check some out at


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