Plastic or Paper ?

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Shopping: plastic or paper? It seems that the answer is obvious to anyone. Most would immediately respond that the paper bag is far less damaging to the environment. But is it really? To assess true impact on the environment is not so easy. It is necessary to determine material and energy costs and emissions generated in all phases of product life, i.e. from raw material procurement to waste.

Everybody is well aware that plastic is one of the slowest decomposing materials. For example, the paper is digested in about 2 years, and plastic bags decompose within 500-1000 years. However, a number of scientists are not sure and said this process is very time-consuming, and since plastic bags have been in the market for just a little over 50 years, there is no practical way to check the actual degradation process.

Large quantities of plastic may cause many problems. Once in the water, plastic bags pose a threat to the various aquatic animals (in particular, whales, seals, turtles). For example, sea turtles often swallow plastic bags, confused with jellyfish.

In 2002, the Normandy beach saw a dead whale whose stomach contained 800 grams of plastic and other packaging materials. There is around 100,000 annual plastic bag victims. Plastic bags can clog the sewerage and drainage systems, leading to flooding, such as Bangladesh by torrential rain season in 1988 and 1998. It must be remembered that plastic bags are produced from petroleum products. Extracting oil, transporting it to environmental pollution, harm the living components of ecosystems and human health.

Ironically, plastic bags were discovered and put into use as an effective tool to preserve trees. It was feared that paper boxes and paper bags directly contributed to the increasingly rapid deforestation. Each year, Americans consume approximately 10 billion paper bags - about 14 million trees!

Deforestation is not the only problem associated with paper bags. American Academy of Research discovered it takes 4 times more energy to produce paper bags than plastic ones, as well as production of paper bags releases 70 percent more air pollutants and 50 times more water pollution. Paper recycling industry is much more developed than the plastic, but paper bag processing uses 98 percent more energy than the same quantity of plastic bags.

Both paper and plastic bags need to be transported. Transportation vehicles emit CO2 and other pollutants. Plastic bags have less negative environmental impact because they are much lighter and more compact. If it takes seven trucks to distribute paper bags, the same number of plastic bags may be delivered in a single truck. Plastic bags also take much less space in landfills.
So what is the answer to the question: paper or plastic? Neither! The answer is - environmentally friendly fabric bags. These bags are made from renewable resources, the manufacturing process is much less damaging to the environment, and most importantly - these bags are durable. It is estimated that one high-quality fabric bag over its entire life cycle replaces 1,000 plastic bags. Using textile bag not only is not only friendlier to the environment, but also save money.

Renewable energy resources
Solar and wind energy

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