Paper or Plastic (NOT !)

From ecology
Finally the age old problem of paper or plastic has been solved.  It's neither.  Both are needlessly wasteful.  Why manfacture any baggage that is used only to carry groceries from the shopping cart into the car, then from the car into the kitchen, then disposed of in some land fill?  Simply reuse a shopping bag ... put them in your car and carry them into the store and the cleark will gladly use them to stack groceries.  

These i bough from my favorite supermarket, Fred Meyer,  for under $1 each.  I bought 10 of them ... a good investment  indeed ... and good business for Fred Meyer too


  1. trash
  2. ecology
  3. groceries
  4. paper or plastic
  5. shopping bags
  6. plastic bags
  7. use less stuff
  8. packageing


Seth says
M 2007-08-01 13:46:04 7883
It looks as if you are returning to the style of the 40's & 50's - the way our folks, especially the old man used to shop.
Yeah,  at least i have a car and don't need to pull that customized shopping cart the grown ups put together.  But it is not just me, i'm seeing more and more folks doing this.  They have these bags right there at the checkout stand.  It's getting to be all a craze here.  I'm surprised you haven't seen any of this happening where you live.

Mark de LA says
O I have, especially at Wild Oats & Whole Foods.  Most of the time I get the paper bags to pick up the dog turds in the back yard & use in the trash can as a lining!

Seth says

I just found out that Fred Meyer gives you 5 cents back every time you use these shopping bags  These bags should pay for themselves by the end of the year.  After that it's all gravey ... for me and for the environment too.

Seth says

Both China and Australia to Ban Free Plastic Bags - Why Can't U.S.?  Why indeed ?

My biggest behavioral problem is remembering to take my shopping bags into a store.  That, and figureing a way around using plastic trash bags ... but i'm working on it.

Seth says
M 2008-01-14 18:51:45 7883
seth 2008-01-14 17:30:33 7883
M 2008-01-14 17:10:03 7883
Has anyone figured out which is better or more politically green correct the paper bags (killing trees) or the plastic bags (killing arabs) ?

Yep, neither.  Get reusable bags!  That's the point of this item.
But you see, they are not preventing paper bags!

I guess i dont get your point.

Seth says
M 2008-01-14 23:52:04 7883
At the risk of obviousness if the country outlaws plastic bags then everyone will use paper bags until they outlaw paper bags too! The idea of outlawing a particular kind of bag is silly when you consider that bags can be recycled with some little effort.
Paper bags will biodegrade easily in landfill but plastic bags maybe not so easily. 

The best solution is to eliminate the bags entierly ... not only from the store to the home, but also from the home to the trash.  We need a new way to take out the trash.  We need to rethink the path trash takes from under the kitchen counter to the dump.  It seems to me that "indoor-women" in particular (i hate to put it this way) like the convenience of the trash bag ... like to take a "clean" bag out of the trash, sinch it up, and stage it somewhere for hubby to take outside.  This kinky American behavior needs to be redesigned.  One wonders how many domestic disputes are brewing all over the land.

Mark de LA says
Well Whole Foods, my favorite health food market,  seems to have banned plastic bags in it's markets by April 22 of 2008 (Earth Day).  Now we get to see what the effects are of more people handling your vegetables when you check out at the check stand.  They answered the question - apparently NOT plastic.  I predict a surge in the value of those old plastic bags. At one point they had containers made out of corn & other biodegradable materials instead of plastic for their take-out stuff.

Mark de LA says
For germaphobes (not me!) think about it. The checkers handle money & then your vegetables. Slurp!

Seth says
Fred Meyer still uses plastic bags for the vegies.  Let me know what Whole foods ends up with.

Mark de LA says
I asked a clerk at Whole Foods about the veggie bags & they don't know yet what will happen. Meanwhile I got a bunch of their $1 bags to carry the groceries in.  I note here that even though they are obviously reusable, nice, they are made out of plastic! The $6 faux canvas ones are made out of ?? The $12 canvas ones are presumably made out of canvas.  CNN has a quick video here. What are yours made out of, nylon? (also a plastic).

Seth says
The tag says polypropylene, you can read more about the bags at their website  That they are reusable, is of course the main point, but they are also spinning a "collectable" angel ... which is kind of funny American marketing.  I don't know if polypropylene itself is easily recyclable, but it does seem very durable which is what i think they were going for.  I don't think its a good idea to confuse reusable with recyclable or to go on a crusade against plastic. 

Mark de LA says
Polypropelene & polyethylene are very, very close cousins.  It's the irony of banning plastic & replacing them with plastic that tickled my funny bone.  Hemp/cotton Canvas would be the environmentally choice option, but maybe you can't get that from China cheaply. Maybe the South should rise again with cotton & hemp crops!

Seth says
Hemp might be a good idea.  I'll need to stop by one of those hemp booths next time i go to a fair.  i don't know why the US commercial mentality seems always go to China for anything that needs to be manufactured ... sure i know that the labor is supposed to be cheeper there ... but we need jobs here too and we need to be able to manufacture things efficiently enough to compete ... especially where the raw crop is grown on our soil.  

It was interesting when we were considering getting our solar powered bible into Wall Mart the agents immediately started pushing manufacturing it in China ... like they didnt take it seriously as a mass market product unless it was comming from there.   I'm not so sure i like this new globalization. 

Seth says
Hmmm ... heavy duty hemp bags available for $22.95 here.  This doesn't work for me.  On the one hand i pay $10 for 10 bags and get a .05 rebate every time i use them at Fred Meyer ... on the other hand i pay $229.50 and dont't get any rebate.  A no brainer choice even for a gung ho environmentalist like myself. 

We need to work on these choices !

Mark de LA says
Well (Wikipedia) the hemp reasons it's not grown in the US are that it is close to marijuana.

Seth says
source: Thoughts on global warming
In 2002, Ireland put a tax on plastic bags because of environmental concerns. On a separate note, last year, the same country announced plans to tax cars based on lightbulbs and a decision to ban incandescent lightbulbs.

We'd like to update the tax on plastic bags story. Within weeks of the tax being implemented, plastic bag use dropped 94%. Within a year, nearly everyone stopped using plastic bags.

Success? Definitely.
Some peopl say that use taxes to change undersireable behaviro and to be sure it is a slippery slope.  But it can be successful. 

Mark de LA says
 I prefer positive incentives rather than negative ones - especially those involving force & it's cousin taxation.  Remember that the popularity & spread of the Internet was in part due to pornography!

Mark de LA says
Nothing in your article mentioned plastic bags! If you want to demonize all plastic then you might look around you starting with your computer & get rid of it all. Look at how much you sell at which is made of plastic. Don't use your toothbrush either.  I saw a Science Channel article on the floating plastic refuse in the ocean about a year ago.  Most of it was residue of manufacturing.  If you are satisfied thinking you are saving the Earth by getting rid of some of your behavior which has nothing to do with the problem you think it is solving - go for it!  Some companies are now beginning to make a business of recycling all plastics not just the 1,2 & 3 type. That might be a better way to go.
Science that works with the truth is better than science that works with politicians!

Seth says
M 2008-03-09 12:25:41 7883
Again it's OK in your mind if people lie in order to affect your behavior! Your links didn't mention how much is plastic bags if any! Indeed, the article I sited said that it is hard to estimate what problem is caused by them. In fact banning plastic bags will not have much effect at all upon what you are concerned about.  The lies apparently have already closed your mind or maybe you didn't read my article.
Fine, you are just being argumentative, and i want no part of that waste of time.  I know of no lies in the articles i linked to, nor do i have any confidance that there are not lies in the article that you have posted.  If you know something specific, then spit it out, otherwise you as far as i can see you are just amplyfying other peoples misinformation and migguided judgementss.   I am taking it as a fact that there are tons of plastic bags collecting in the ocean at the palce described by Moore - do you have any evidance to the contrary?  That alone, in my mind, weighs heavily in favor of a ban on this wasteful behavior.  As for my own behavior i am profiting 5 cents for each bag of groceries i take home and i can get more in one bag so that there is less carrying and less cases where the bag breaks and things get broken on the ground.  This is big improvement for my family.  No go ahead and rail against that. 

Seth says
M 2008-03-08 14:31:52 7883
& NOW, Series of blunders turned the plastic bag into global villain from the UK. Apparently most of the death of sea animals was due to netting & other plastic debris. IOW, flawed & hyped studies created politicians who banned the plastic bag.  So now we have flaws in the eco-hula-hoops of fluorescent light bulbs, plastic bag replacements & bio diesel.  Those about to meet their demise are some kinds of windmills (which kill birds with their propellers), ethanol made from food resources, some hybrids which use more resources to build (the batteries) than are ever saved by not burning oil.

Well you might want to study some of these issues prior to closing you mind.  The plastic bags are creating a mess in the ocean - check out this first hand account by Charles Moore in Natural History, and here is a shorter summary of that mess which the convenience of your bags are creating.  So if you want to continue to throw things away in the trash that will stay in landfill or the ocean for centuries, go ahead.  I guess its your liberty that is at stake, huh?  Me i prefer to be aware of the consequences of my trashy behaviro and improve the overall situation where i can.

Seth says
M 2008-03-09 14:40:18 7883
Nothing in your article mentioned plastic bags! If you want to demonize all plastic
Actually the article does mention plastic packaging a couple of times but here is another quote about Moore's findings if you are honestly doubting that he found massess of bags out there:
source: bestlifeonline
Moore had spent countless hours in the ocean, fascinated by its vast trove of secrets and terrors. He

Mark de LA says
I was about to say "I give up - go take your meds" when I noticed there are no pictures of this giant mess of plastic bags.  The plastic in the mouth of the turtle is suspect. Where did they come from? I sure didn't put them there.  Are there cruise lines that dump off Hawaii? It is against the law to dump within a certain limit of land. The hyperbole in your cited articles seems ridiculous without the pictures to go with it.  Somehow the connection between my using plastic bags & the pictures (photoshopped or otherwise) seem out of proportion & disconnected.  My article did explain the difference between the plastic bag hype & what was actually found in the way of plastics in the ocean.  The land fills in Colorado are where the refuse goes including plastic bags. They are beginning to be turned back into parks, with the methane reused to provide power to the grid. Is Seattle dumping your garbage into the Pacific Ocean ?

Mark de LA says
The Pope's on Seth's side !  See this article.
source: ... 
 Failing to recycle plastic bags could find you spending eternity in Hell, the Vatican said after drawing up a list of seven deadly sins for our times.
... now I know it is a religion!

Seth says
M 2008-03-09 22:58:38 7883
 Is Seattle dumping your garbage into the Pacific Ocean ?
King county has one of the most advanced recycleing programs in the nation.  I don't know the exact percentage of the waste that is recycled but it is way up there comparative to the rest of the country.  From this house it is approxamately 60% ... and i actually sell the cardboard for about $55/ton.  Some years ago they started a unified recycling so that it does not need to be separated into bottles and paper but can all go in one bin - which is pictured on the left. 

Unfortunately you are not supposed to put plastic bags in the recycler bin.  That's the whole point here.  Those go in the other bin and get dumped in the Cedar Hills landfill which is running out of space.   I'm looking forward to the day when they have just one trash bin and none of it goes into landfill.  That day is comming but it is a long way off.  Is the trash from Colorado still being freighted to San Pedro and barged into the Pacific?

Mark de LA says
I haven't done an exhaustive study of trash disposal here.  We have many different trash companies that do what's economical with the waste they transport.  I can't imagine it being economical to transport it 1500 miles to the coast.  I went to the local landfill which is located about 3 miles away near the Rocky Flats.  It is separated into various different kinds of waste. I had Waste Management as a "reverse-vendor" for a while, but others were more economical & less touchy. They are advertizing a lot about their greenness.  Unfortunately they charge a lot to recycle & rent their bins.  Our King Soopers supermarket has a bunch of recycle bins behind the building, I think they forbid plastic bags as well.  Whole foods has a place to recycle plastic bags.

Seth says
M 2008-03-10 09:51:12 7883
 I can't imagine it being economical to transport it 1500 miles to the coast. 

Actually more waste is transported by rail than you might think.  These Rabanco cars are all over ... i'll bet that if you go look at some trains you will see them go by.

Mark de LA says
BTW, I do use Allied Waste, but they have landfills here & don't need to ship the stuff to Renton.

Mark de LA says
Yep, I hate that plastic shell packaging that a lot of electronics stuff comes in.  There are even special openers you can buy to get it off because regular scissors are hard to work with it. Presumably the packages deter pilfering & theft & keep all the parts in the package better.
BUt,  Down with shell packaging!

Seth says
MR 2009-05-02 07:34:32 7883
Under the heading of other packaging a website called Use Less Stuff has analyzed coffee, milk & tuna containers.  They have a nice website on the general environmental impact of some human behavior. From my perspective it is a good example of how complex the subject can get if you dig even a little deeper than most activists can think. This is a subject which one can think about while practicing selective spending. Another subject on this website is in one of their newsletters about how much food is wasted.

Perhaps we should hold a contest for the worst packaging of the year. We could break it down to categories: environmental and human experience. I nominate the BlueAnt bluetooth products.  In the store it looks really hot ... like you could just pick it up, take off the lid and pop it in your ear.  But no ... you cannot open this thing without a buzz saw.  Not only is there an outer package that is a challenge, but getting the divise off of it's pedistal without busting it requires surgacal precision.  The packageing was so bad that, as a retailer, i decided not to subject my customers to their packageing so i open it up for them and ship it sans the extra drama. I suppose that they think it looks cute in the store ... a case of a product designer being paid way way too much money. But from me the BlueAnt packageing gets a bit five rasberries:

Seth says
seth 2009-08-19 12:56:13 7883

source: Seattle Times
Opponents regularly labeled the charge a tax rather than a fee and called it unnecessary and misguided. They said it would backfire — that as throwaway bags were phased out, people who now reuse them at home in various ways would start buying sturdier plastic bags that are even worse for the environment.
... Which was a totally fallacious argument.  I've been using my own bags for over a year and have yet to find a single need to purchase any plastic bags. 

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