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Paper Shopping Bags Are Environmentally Friendly

Updated on June 4, 2012

Nowadays the use of paper shopping bags is considered the action of an environmentally friendly person. However, such bags have been in use for over a hundred years. Ever since the invention of paper, paper has always been used to wrap items, which most such wrappings being tied down by string, which made it easy to carry the parcel.

The Birth of Paper Shopping Bags

The actual idea of paper shopping bags came from handles attached to preformed paper bags which then made it very easy for them to be carried about. This idea was even patented as an invention that allowed people to have their hands free. Subsequent developments also allowed such paper bags to be printed with advertisements, thus reducing the cost of their manufacture and making them items that were easily accepted. Shopkeepers preferred to give away such bags free, as a form of rolling advertising. However, one problem with paper shopping bags has always been their being accident prone and tearing very easily even when handled very carefully. This led to the bag industry looking for alternatives that soon came in the form of cheaper plastic that was much more durable. This led to a almost complete cessation of the use of paper shopping bags.

Environmental Awareness Brought Back Paper Bags

Plastic bags posed a huge threat to the environment because of the fact that they almost never deteriorate and remain permanently in the garbage or other dumps. Paper has a major advantage here, because it comes from plant material that is biodegradable and will thus not cause any damage to the environment. The incidental damage that is caused by paper shopping bags comes from the inks and other chemicals that are used to preserve the paper or print on it.

Factors That Affect Paper Shopping Bag Production

Scientists have been able to find ways to recycle both plastic and paper to produce new products. Paper shopping bags are just one of them. Making of paper shopping bags involves the production of paper which comes from trees, and cutting down trees to produce paper can affect essential green cover. Companies are however aware of this, and a number of paper companies claim that they produce paper only from captive plantations or recycled paper, and do not in any way reduce forest cover. They scientifically arrange to grow huge plantations, whose tree cover is constantly being renewed. The production process of the paper is also dependent on energy and water. Even the recycling of paper requires more energy than the recycling of plastic. The saving grace about paper is that the resource from which it comes, trees, is renewable. Plastic does not have this advantage ,as the petroleum products from which they are made are dependent on a resource that is limited in nature and is not immediately renewable.

One advantage with paper shopping bags, especially in developing countries, is that their manufacture is quite often a village industry that gives a lot of employment. Even the recycling of paper that is normally made into paper bags is done at the cottage industry level. It is not uncommon to find grocers in these countries handing over your goods to you in bags that have been made out of old newspapers.


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    • Jennifer Madison profile image

      Jennifer Madison 5 years ago from Lohmar

      I enjoyed reading this and I learnt some new things about paper shopping bags today. Great article!

    • Karre profile image

      Karre Schaefer 5 years ago from Eskridge, Kansas

      Wonderful idea!Great article. Thanks!

    • Reviewsbypat profile image

      Pat Kane 5 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      This idea is genius. Anything that helps the planet, is sustainable and does not burden any other systems, pays for itself in spades.