"Paper of Plastic?" was a question that was frequently asked in past decades, but is rarely seen today. Plastic bags have proven themselves the true victor of the convenience war, and have taken at least 80 percent of use from paper bags, despite only being introduced in the 1970s. There are several factors for this; plastic bags are extremely cheap and easy to produce, and were seen originally as the ecologically friendly alternative to paper bags. Plastic bags typically cost one-forth that of a paper bag, and consume less space in storage.
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It is estimated that ~100 billion plastic shopping bags are consumed each year in the USA, according to the Wall-Street Journal. Many of those plastic bags end up in landfills, the sea and other places where they don’t belong. Using a reusable bag could significantly reduce the amount of plastic bags consumed around the globe.BYOB, or Bring Your Own Bag, is a strategy that encourages consumers to change their individual shopping habits, and raise awareness to the subject.Here in America, the San Jose Council passed one of the nation’s strictest bans on plastic and paper shopping bags. This ban was made in response to the pressing issue of over million plastic bags per year making their way to the sea in the bay area only. San Francisco and Palo Alto soon joined the cause, as well as ten other US cities.But not only in America such bans have been occurring. Many cities around the world enacted a ban on plastic shopping bags: Modbury (England), Mexico City (Mexico), Rwanda, Rangoon (Burma), Oyster Bay (Australia), Bangladesh and even various cities in India: Delhi, Mumbai, Karwar, Tirumala, Vasco and Rajasthan. Some countries in Europe, such as Italy, Belgium, and Ireland have chosen not to ban plastic bags, but to add taxes on them. Soon after, it has been reported that plastic bag use dropped by 94 percent.Disposable bags have proven themselves to be harmful to the environment, as our poor planet is signaling us to stop. What can we do about it? We can Bring Our Own Bags to the store. Reusable bags are durable, fashionable and pollute less. Next time you go shopping - BYOB.

    About EcoMerge:

    Our commitment in this Portland State University ongoing capstone project is to explore the intersects between economical and ecological systems and inform the reader, four times a year, on different major topical themes. Grocery Bags is the subject of focus on this site.


    March 2011
    February 2011



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