The common eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags is paper bags. However, the ‘dark side’ of the paper industry suggests another option–the tote bag.
With the recycling movement having become more mainstream, about 60 countries have already enforced a partial or complete ban against single-use plastic bags. Generally, plastics are hard to break down and often litter the oceans, beaches, and forests, endangering wildlife and the environment.
The gradual ban on using single-use plastics has forced people to find eco-friendly alternatives. Many establishments opted for paper bags. Paper is biodegradable and would not pollute water and soil, as plastic does. However, as harmless as paper bags may be, there is a dark side to this solution–the paper industry.
The Paper Industry
Industries, especially those of food and retail, adapted to the growing number of single-use plastic bans by switching to paper bags. According to Zion Market Research, the market for paper bags is set to reach 6.35 billion USD by 2025. It started gaining vast popularity in 2018 due to lifestyle changes and the world’s increasing affinity to pair their eco-friendly views with their shopping habits.
This rising demand for paper bags, however, takes a toll on trees. About 11 million acres of trees are cut down each year to create paper. On top of that, the pulp and paper industry is the third-largest industrial polluter in the United States, releasing over 100 million kg [what is the equivalent in tons?] of toxic pollution annually into the environment.
Despite the unpleasant side of the paper industry, there is still something you can do. You may opt to use recycled paper instead of virgin paper. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycled paper has 35% less water pollution and 74% less air pollution.
Yet, there is still another option. Why not try the tote bag?
Reusable Tote Bags
Paper bags are flimsy and cannot withstand heavier loads, aside from their inability to hold wet items for long periods. Thus, tote bags came into the scene and provided a sturdier and more reusable alternative to plastic or even paper bags.
The more we reuse them, the less need we have for both paper and plastic. To further put things into perspective, the UK Environmental Agency states that we need to use a canvas tote bag at least 330 times to counter the environmental impact of a plastic bag used only once!
Before you grab a tote bag, make sure to use one that is made of hemp. A cotton bag has to be reused at least 173 times to compensate for the waste that it produces from production to packaging to disposal. On the other hand, factories can process hemp using fewer resources because they can be produced faster in larger quantities. Its stiffness can also add to the strength it offers when carrying heavier loads.
Next time you shop or do the groceries, opt to bring your own tote bag. They come in various sizes, can be folded and neatly tucked in your bag.
And for those of you who vape, you can also contribute to a sustainable environment by choosing the Bidi™ Stick, which is manufactured by Bidi™ Vapor. It is made with premium quality materials that allow them to be recyclable.
Bidi Vapor, through Bidi™ Cares, its environmental platform, urges Bidi users to return their empty Bidi Sticks. For every 10 empty Bidi Sticks returned, a Bidi user receives one free Bidi Stick on his or her next purchase.
For more information, visit www.bidicares.com.