Plastic bags seem to be one of the most hated things on the planet. But you know when it comes to things like climate change. Paper and cotton bags are actually much worse for the planet than plastic. When people look at environmental impacts, they tend to focus right at the end of the life cycle analysis. They see the plastic pollution that’s a massive problem but what far fewer people see is right at the beginning of the production side.
In fact, the plastic bag was originally invented to help save the planet. To my dad, the idea that people would simply throw these away would be bizarre.That’s Rao Thulin, His father Sten Gustaf Thulin is credited with inventing the plastic bag we know today back in Sweden in 1959. Back then people used paper bags a lot and for those they needed to cut down a lot of trees which was not exactly great for the planet. Sten had an idea, he worked out that if he could create a strong bag that was light and would last for ages, then people could use it over and over again and that would mean fewer trees being chopped down which would be better for the environment. It was very much an improvement on what there was before. He always carried one in his pocket folded up. You know what we are all being encouraged to do today which is to take your own bags to the shop, he was doing., back in the 70,s and 80,s just naturally because well why wouldn’t you? The problem is these bags were so convenient, that we humans we got lazy. We would just throw them away after we were done with them. Plastic bags weren’t single use but they became single-use and its one of the reasons we have this plastic pollution problem today. A lot of countries now charge you for a plastic bag.UK,
Ireland believe that ,The idea being you won’t want one if you have to pay for it.And in some countries like Morocco, New Zealand, they have banned these bags altogether. So a lot of us are ditching the plastic and we are using paper and cotton bags more instead. But those bags are not actually saints.
A paper carrier bag, they use more energy, they use a lot of water to produce and they are heavier as well. So depending on where they are made there’s an extra environmental impact of transporting them to the shops.Cotton bags are even worse. Cotton uses a lot of water and it is quite an intensive crop to produce so this is the same concern we have got with some of the fastest fashion issues. On the flip side, plastic bags are very efficient to make. We need very little oil. Super little energy and then we have a plastic bag. To be as environmentally friendly as a single-use plastic bag that’s getting recycled. A paper bag has to be used at least three times while cotton bags need to be used at least 131 times to have the same environmental impact as a single-use plastic bag that gets recycled. It makes it hard to know well, what bag should I be using if I don’t want to kill the planet. The answer is to use the bag you already own and keep using it again and again and again and when it breaks mend it or recycle it.