Compared to paper grocery bags, plastic grocery bags consume 40% less energy, generate 80% less solid waste, produce 70% fewer atmospheric emissions, and release up to 94% fewer waterborne wastes.
Can you believe that statement was released as part of the initiative to drive consumers away from paper bags and towards the 'reusable' plastic bag?
One of the reasons I started Intentionally Sustainable was because I kept hearing statements like "humans are so disgusting," or "people are so lazy, they just don't care."
When I thought about my own past use of disposable plastic, I realized that at the time I simply didn't know how much damage it would cause years down the road. I'm not an ignorant person and I'm not disgusting, or lazy. How could I not have known?
As you can see from this time line, in the beginning, no one knew plastic was so bad for the environment.
1926 - Harrods brought out the first multicolour thermosetting plastic tableware
1938 - The first toothbrush with nylon tufts was manufactured
1946 - Tupperware introduced their now famous airtight lid with a 'burping seal'
1948 - The first 12" vinyl LP record was produced
1958 - LEGO hit the market
1959 - Mattel unveiled the Barbie Doll at the American International Toy Fair
The Late 1950's - Tupperware parties arrived on the scene, directly targeting and empowering bored, lonely housewives, many of whom had stepped up during World War II and were eager for an opportunity to run their own business and contribute to the family income. This new lightweight, sturdy, and 'disposable' product was marketed as an essential part of a good healthy home.
Anyone that has a child fifteen years old or older can tell you that the item being disposable was the best part of the product. Disposable plastic plates, cups, cutlery and anything else you could get your hands on revolutionized children's parties.
No one ever mentioned that they didn't know how to dispose of it, or even that it wasn't actually disposable. Back then it was all about saving trees, so everyone used plastic instead.
1985 - The Society of Plastic Engineers' Regional Conference talked about "New Materials and Profits In Grocery Sacks and Co-Extrusions," and pointed out that plastic bags were less expensive than paper bags. At the time, one thousand plastic bags cost $24, while the same number of paper bags could set retailers back $30.
The Late 1980's and Early 1990's - People were still unsure about the choice between paper and plastic, that is, until they were told about the advantages of the 'reusable plastic bag'.
The Film and Bag Federation, a trade group within the Society of Plastics Industry based in Washington, D.C., said the right choice between paper and plastic bags was clearly plastic.
"Compared to paper grocery bags, plastic grocery bags consume 40% less energy, generate 80% less solid waste, produce 70% fewer atmospheric emissions, and release up to 94% fewer waterborne wastes," according to the federation.
Robert Bateman, President of Roplast Industries, a manufacturer of plastic bags (including reusable ones) in Oroville, California, said the economic advantage of plastic bags over paper bags had become too significant for store owners to ignore. "It costs one cent for a standard plastic grocery sack, whereas a paper bag costs four cents,"he said.
All in all, it sounds like a very convincing pitch. But now we are more informed, have more information at our fingertips, and we know better. We also have access to better choices with sustainable bags. So, let's stay positive knowing that together we can make a change.....