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About 9 years ago a company was formed to fill a niche in the business of supplying bags that did more than just hold the goods you just purchased. This particular bag shop decided to use some excellent, creative artwork in a number of different applications to provide a message on the bag as well. With plastic getting a bad name, probably a worse name, it was an intuitive and genius move that has seen the enterprise grow into UK’s leading supplier and importer of printed carrier bags. Nice move Mr. Smith.

1Things have changed at the supermarket too because as you come through the checkout, you are asked the question “Paper or plastic?” referring to what type of bag you wanted your groceries placed into. Some of us have a nagging conscience that will make us choose the paper bag and let’s assume it’s not raining. If it’s raining that paper bag is going to turn to mush and your purchases are going to end up all over the ground. So, “Paper, please” is the reply. But hang on, isn’t paper made from trees? How many trees were used to make all these paper bags?

What a conundrum. It’s a fact that plastic bags cost a lot less for the supermarkets to supply although the trend these days is to provide really good ones and charge you for them, as much as £0.50 a bag, thank you very much. Environmental groups urge grocery stores to stop offering plastic so many of them have made the decision for us. No more plastic, full stop! An organization in the USA actually filed a damages suit against their city for banning plastic saying that not enough research was done and promotion of plastic recycling left a lot to be desired. An interesting argument.

The little business mentioned in the opening paragraph and based in the UK also provides small paper bags for sandwiches, pies and snacks and you can advertise on these bags for as little as 2p a bag. A cheap way to advertise and a great way for a business to make itself known locally in that area. But the argument still continues about what is really the best for the environment.

  • Don’t let guilt be your guide. Take the time to read up some facts about plastic V paper. Believe me, it’s not a gimme for the paper.
  • The manufacture of paper causes air pollution, 70% more than making plastic and emits 80% more greenhouse gases. Paper uses trees, trees absorb carbon dioxide. Making a paper bag results in 50 times more water pollutants than making plastic bags.
  • Some bads for plastic: Litter. Plastic bags are everywhere. They are a danger to wildlife. They take a long, long time to degrade. We guess at 1000 years but who knows yet?

So there are a few things to consider when choosing paper over plastic. It seems we are the masters of our own mess.

Andy McGowan
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