If you take a tote bag to the grocery store, you are not necessarily saving the planet.
When you go to the supermarket, is it better for this planet to bring home your groceries with paper, plastic or reusable tote bags? The answer is more complicated than you think.
Plastic bags are cheap and convenient, but they are a scourge on Earth.
It turns out that some reusable bags also have a huge environmental footprint.
Paper is also not a good choice, especially if you are going to throw it away after one use.
So which option is the worst depends on who you ask.
In April, Quartz published an article entitled \"Your cotton tote bag is almost the worst alternative to plastic bags.
\"The story is based on the Danish Environmental Protection Agency\'s 2018 Life Cycle Assessment of grocery bags, which found that,
When it comes to how the manufacture of plastic affects climate change, ozone consumption, use of water, air pollution and toxicity to humans, the use of plastic is less harmful than cotton pads or even paper bags.
s must be reused thousands of times in order to achieve the environmental protection of plastic bags --
Danish researchers wrote that organic cotton is worse than traditional cotton in terms of overall environmental impact.
However, the Danish report did not take into account the harm to the natural world after plastic was thrown away.
Plastic bags are recyclable, but special processing equipment is required and cannot be mixed with general recycling.
People have to provide this service at the designated collection center-many grocery stores.
But according to Waste Management, one of the largest garbage collection companies in the United States, only 1% of plastic bags are used for recycling.
In this country, most of the billions of bags used each year are landfill, where they will stay for centuries or longer.
Eric Goldstein, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Conservation Commission, said plastic bags are also a major source of Street and Ocean garbage.
\"They often throw rubbish on our sidewalks, hang them on branches, clog the rain pipes and get into the surrounding waterways, where goldstein told Huffington Post, they end up breaking down into small pieces of plastic, causing problems for fish, birds and other marine life. \".
The waste administration says 100,000 marine animals die from plastic bags every year.
Earlier this year, a dead whale had 88 lbs of plastic garbage in its belly, washed ashore in the Philippines, and plastic shopping bags were one of the items retrieved from the whale\'s belly.
The focus on ocean health is the driving force behind anti-Ocean explosions
Plastic legislation across the United StatesS.
So far, New York and California have officially imposed bags bans across the state, Hawaii has imposed de facto bans, and dozens of cities have introduced or passed their own local bans
But experts worry that confusion about the environmental impact of reusable bags can confuse consumers.
Anne aitomaki, director of organizational plastic change system change, said that the assessment of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency as a reference point for plastic bag discussions was \"very unfortunate\" because there were a lot of other flawed analyses in it.
\"The overall conclusions drawn from the report are misleading as they are based solely on [
Life cycle assessment
She told Huffington Post.
Because things are so complicated, consumers must ultimately decide which factors are most important to them.
If you care about money, plastic bags are usually cheaper for consumers than reusable bags.
But if you worry more
Dune Ives, executive director of lonely whales, said the health term for marine life, reusable bags seem to be a better choice.
\"We have to have a healthy marine system to survive, which means we can\'t get plastic into the ocean,\" Ives told Huffington Post . \".
\"A reusable tote bag has not been found in the belly of a whale, at least in [far as]I have seen.
\"Well, paper bags, they may be biodegradable and easier to recycle than cloth and plastic bags, but, according to Goldstein, they are not omnipotent.
\"If all we do is move from plastic to paper, we are working on a range of environmental issues and adding other issues,\" he said . \".
The harvest, production and manufacture of paper bags all have an impact on the environment.
\"There is a lot of water pollution and air pollution in the process of making and transporting paper,\" Goldstein said . \".
\"This is an energy source --
A dense process of making a piece of wood into smooth, flat, printable paper.
This process usually takes hundreds of miles of traffic.
From forest to consumer
It has its own range of environmental impacts, including global warming caused by air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.
With these consequences in mind, New York City lawmakers recently passed
Hope to encourage people to bring reusable satay from home.
The move took place in April, less than a month after the State Council banned plastic bags.
The argument about paper, plastic or reusable materials is more than just the type of bag you bring to the grocery store.
Ives pointed out that this highlights a fundamental flaw in our consumer culture.
When most of the items we buy from the store are packed in our own plastic case or film, the whole system is broken.
\"We really need to rethink how to receive consumables instead of worrying about bags or handbags,\" Ives said . \".
Solving the problem of excessive plastic packaging requires greater efforts than local bans on certain types of bags or packaging.
First, the ban could have unintended consequences-a recent study of the California grocery store found that sales of plastic garbage bags soared after the law on shopping bags was introduced, and the use of paper bags soared.
A meaningful solution will consist of three parts, says Goldstein: \"We need the public to be aware of this challenge and to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.
We need the government to make clear and reasonable rules and take safeguard measures.
We need businesses and companies to show leadership and understand their responsibility for resource conservation and sustainability.
\"Some companies are already addressing the problem of over-packaging and are committed to stopping the use of materials known to be harmful to the planet.
Trader Joe recently announced plans to phase out Singles
McDonald\'s became the first science restaurant to be approved in 2018
The goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
There are also some new innovations, such as Loop, a service that provides mainstream products in reusable, recyclable hearing tubes, such as ice cream, mouthwash and paper towels.
Now, no matter what type of bag you choose at the grocery store, the best thing to do is to use it multiple times instead of throwing it away after one use.
The story is part of a series of stories funded by SC Johnson about plastic waste.
All content is independent in editing, without the influence and input of the company.