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January 16th Tip of the Week

Hello Campus Community,

Here is your January 16th Sustainability Tip of the Week, a few days late!
This week’s tip about using paper bags vs plastic bags (if cloth/reusable bags aren’t your preference) is brought to you by Todd Bates. Thank you Todd!!

By Jonathan Croswell (
The well-worn debate between paper and plastic bags has persisted since plastic bags were introduced in 1977, according to “The New York Times.” Plastic bags were introduced years ago as an alternative to bulky paper bags that can be heavy, difficult to carry and more costly to businesses. But plastic bags don’t biodegrade and are made with harmful chemicals. And while reusable cloth shopping bags are growing in popularity, they are more costly to consumers and aren’t always the easiest solution. Because of this, many consumers find papers bags a good alternative if they don’t have reusable bags.
Paper bags are made of natural products, which allows them to be broken down by the elements–albeit over a long time. Plastic bags aren’t as lucky–most aren’t biodegradable and can fill up landfills, costing cities as much as 17 cents per disposal of each bag, according to Money Central. Recycling plastic bags is an option, but the costs can be impractical. As of 2010, it can cost $4,000 to recycle one ton of plastic bags, which is resold to stores for $32, according to Squawk Fox. On the other hand, paper bags are easily tossed into the paper recycling bin and reused.
Renewable Resource
Paper bags are made from felled trees, which some proponents of plastic bags suggest creates more of an imprint on the environment than plastic bags. But trees are also a renewable resource that can be replaced over time. Many paper and lumber mills practice tree replacement so that their supply of trees doesn’t diminish over time.
Less Litter
One paper bag can do the same work it can take several plastic bags to accomplish. The downside to this is that plastic bags are often overused–some businesses use a plastic bag to hold one single item. The practice of overusing plastic bags can add to the country’s littering problem. Plastic bags are frequently found blowing in the wind alongside roads and elsewhere in the outdoors. Paper bags are much larger and less abundant, and they aren’t as easily lost to the wind