Paper vs. Plastic

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 5:12 PM


Before I started this project and researching this topic, I always thought that paper would be the better choice. I thought that this was an easy choice – paper is recyclable and plastic fills up our landfills – enough said. Another observation that I made was that most paper bags used in grocery stores are made out of recyclable paper; consumers then are not using new paper, we are already helping out the environment by using post-recycled material.

After exploring this topic more in-depth, I came to realize that neither paper nor plastic is a good option. They both cause harm to the environment. Here are some interesting facts that I found on The Washington Post’s website.

Paper vs. Plastic:
PAPER: American’s consume more than 10 billion paper bags each year – 14 million trees are cut down yearly for the manufacturing of paper
PLASTIC: 4 billion plastic bags end up as liter annually – if we tied the plastic bags together it would circle the earth 63 times – that is approximately 1,792,000 miles!! (the circumference of the earth is approximately 28,000 miles around the equator!)
*PAPER: In the process of the production of paper bags, thousands of gallons of fresh water and bleach are used to clean the pulp.
* PLASTIC: American’s use approximately 100 billion plastic bags per year. Did you know that it takes 12 million barrels of oil to make them?
*PAPER: Paper produces 70% more air pollution and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bag production.
PLASTIC: Plastic bags will not decompose over time (also known as being biodegradable), but they do take up less space in a landfill.
                  How you can help:
                  * Reuse paper and plastic bags for lunches, animal liter, garbage can liners,  or keep them available and reuse them when you make a trip back to the grocery store. Reuse, Reuse, Reuse!
                  * Invest in high-quality reusable bags - using reusable bags have the potential to save 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime!
You can find this information by clicking this link: The Washington Post

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