Next time you’re at the grocery checkout and you’re asked “Paper or plastic?” how about replying “Neither— I’ve brought my own.”
More than a million plastic grocery bags are used worldwide every minute. They end up in landfills—where they can take up to a thousand years to degrade—litter our roadsides and even collect in floating islands of trash polluting parts of our oceans. The production of paper bags poses its own environmental problems.
Reusable shopping bags are always a more environmentally-responsible solution. Some grocery chains will even offer a credit on your bill if you BYOB (in this case, Bring Your Own Bag).
In 2002, Ireland tackled an increasing problem of plastic bag litter with a 15 percent tax: plastic bag use dropped 95 percent and now nearly every Irish shopper uses reusable bags.
But if you do use plastic bags, don’t toss them out. Collect them like any other recyclable for return to stores with collection bins. The plastic can be recycled into products including building materials.