Jan 29, 2008

Are recycled paper bags better or worse for the environment

Read the full post at EcoGeek.

Whole Foods, which, for those of you who don't have one, is the world's largest eco-healthy food store, has just promised to completely stop using plastic bags. And while I like that they're, y'know, considering these things, it turns out that their logic may be faulty.

So EcoGeek decided to do a little research, and it turns out, the greenest thing about paper bags is the way people perceive them. Because they seem more natural, people think they're better for the environment. Well, it's a damn shame, but they're wrong.

Creating recycled paper, it turns out, is a much more energy-intensive process than creating plastic bags. That's why grocery stores prefer you take the plastic. Plastic is also much easier to ship, as it takes up way less space in packing, and they weigh far less per item of shopping you take home with you. And while we might worry that all that plastic is coming from foreign oil, the amazing thing is that even with all the billions of plastic bags we use every year, they constitute about 0.03% of our oil use in the U.S.. Obviously not the most pressing problem we've got.

Whole Foods' moving over to 100% recycled paper is actually going to be worse for the environment.