We live in a conscientious age and it’s never been more crucial to be carbon-aware, to recycle and to be mindful of the footprint we leave behind. So let’s take a closer look at the benefits of polythene bags, and why we should choose polythene over paper as businesses as well as consumers.
Put simply, every type of carrier bag on the market creates some impact on the environment in how it’s manufactured and how it’s ultimately disposed of. The best way to lessen the environmental impact of using plastic packaging and carrier bags is to try and re-use yours as often as you can, before ultimately sending it for recycling at the end of its life. And it there’s one thing that plastic bags beat paper bags on hands-down, it’s their reusability. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Let us explain…
Shipping, Storage and Packing
When packing goods for shipping, polythene bags and packaging are a lightweight option that cut out the need for additional paper packaging such as cardboard boxes and envelopes, and other wasteful means of packaging. Polythene packaging comes in various densities and thicknesses, but is generally more durable and less permeable than paper packing options, with the additional advantage of being waterproof and resistant to many chemicals. This makes polythene the ideal solution for mail order companies wishing to keep postage and packaging costs down, as well as companies packaging perishable items. Polythene bags are also lighter than paper bags, and can be stored efficiently on compact distribution rolls.
Polythene bags save trees, and contrary to popular belief they are totally recyclable. For every plastic bag used just once, a paper bag would have to be used three times to equal the plastic bag’s lower carbon footprint. Ever re-used a paper bag? Thought not. Ever re-used a plastic bag? You can see where we’re going with this. It takes far less energy to produce and transport one plastic bag than it does one paper bag, and although paper bags come from renewable resources they’re far less reusable than plastic bags, and can release methane when they degrade. Ever experienced the frustration of a paper carrier bag bottoming-out? Whether it’s your Friday night takeaway or a couple of steaming hot coffees, the outcome is wasteful at best and dangerous at worst.
Cotton Jute Bags
We hate to burst your bubble, but those trendy cotton shopping bags are a false economy, in our opinion. You’d have to use one of them around 130 times before its efficiency equalled that of one plastic bag used just once. Why? Because it takes far more energy and resources to manufacture them. And if you tend to throw yours in the washing machine every couple of weeks, its carbon-efficiency plummets further. So if you use a cotton jute for your trip to the market once a week and decline a plastic bag every time, you’d need to use the same cotton bag every week for roughly two and a half years before the option paid off. If you add to this the fact that most plastic bags are re-used twice in their lifetime before disposal or recycling, you’d need to keep that cotton bag going for nearly eight years.
Ways to Re-use
So the evidence is clear: plastic bags far outstrip their competitors when it comes to carbon-efficiency. But we can still do more than simply opt for plastic over paper. Every time we as consumers re-use a plastic bag, we halve its environmental impact. So fill your car boot with shopping bags and make a concerted effort to bring them with you when you visit the supermarket. Donate a stash to your local charity shop, and use them as bin liners for all the waste paper baskets and smaller bins in your home. Take your packed lunch to work in a re-used plastic bag and use them to cover paint rollers and trays when you’re doing a spot of DIY. Plastic carrier bags are also great for bagging up freezer food and transporting soggy clothing from the swimming pool, as well as protecting your car boot from muddy wellies.
Though it’s now very trendy for shops to give their customers paper carrier bags instead of plastic ones, the evidence above shows us that paper bags are in fact far less green than polythene ones. The rise in popularity of cotton jute bags is also a huge misnomer, it seems. Through spreading the word about the power of plastic over paper, and by developing good habits like reusing our plastic bags as often as we can, we can all do our bit. And in the spirit of reusing and recycling, why not share this article as a first step?