Paper vs. Plastic

June 11, 2007

One thing this forum will be about, I hope, is eliminating confusion. Many people want to make choices that are good for the planet but aren’t sure what choice to make. Do I use aluminum foil or plastic wrap? Wood fencing or metal or plastic? Which one REALLY has the least impact, both in manufacturing and in disposal?

It’s hard to tell. I hope to find out the answers to at least some of these kinds of questions and pass them along, but in the meantime, this from my friend Wendy: Paper vs. Plastic? Neither! This site will tell you why neither of these options is particularly healthy for the planet.

Here’s the small change. Get just one cloth bag — just one — and use it whenever you’re only buying a few things. The big change is, of course, eventually to use only cloth bags, and reduce your dependence on both paper and plastic.

I believe thoughtful consumerism — paying attention to what we buy, and why, and thinking not just in terms of whether we need or want a product but whether the acquisition of that product is really worth it when you compare how it benefits us with what it costs the planet in totality — is crucial to fixing many of the problems this planet currently faces.

Thoughtful consumerism starts with small changes. Reducing our society’s use of plastic and paper grocery bags starts with reducing your particular grocery store’s monthly bag order — and that will happen if you use a cloth bag, and I use a cloth bag, and the guy ahead of us in line uses one also, or just carries his gallon of milk in his hand.

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