Thursday, April 23, 2009

Unnecessary Baggage

Paper or plastic? Well if you asked me six hours ago, I would have said, “Plastic please.” But since I have officially started the Compact Challenge, my new answer is, “Neither.” Part of the Compact Challenge is to reduce, reuse, and recycle. And after looking at several websites, it can clearly be seen that plastic and paper shopping bags are quintessential counters to the ideal goals of this challenge.

I visited two websites. According to, the production of plastic bags utilizes “less energy and water” compared to paper bags. Also, the production generates a smaller amount of air pollution as well as solid waste. On the downside, plastic bags are excessively consumed. According to, over 500 billion plastic bags are expended globally each year. In addition to being consumed excessively, they are also not properly thrown away once used. Instead of being recycled, they are found in places such as the creek of our very own UC Davis Arboretum. Another reason why plastic bags should be avoided is because they serve as a potential threat to wildlife as well as human beings.

“WARNING: To avoid danger of suffocation,keep this plastic bag away from babies and children.”

As for paper bags… According to, the main concerns as to why we shouldn’t use paper shopping bags are:

A.They require chopping more trees down.
B. Like plastic bags, they are not being recycled. And as a result, they once again become litter.
Collectively, these facts show that although they help to carry our bought goods and random paraphernalia, paper and plastic shopping bags are evil, and they sure aren’t eco-friendly!

Thus, rather than using paper and plastic shopping bags during these next twenty-eight days, I will TRY to use canvas bags (or tote bags as they are commonly called). I have to admit that my overall past experience with using canvas bags is not very good. For instance, I bought two eco-friendy bags from Costco two years ago. The only time I ever used them was on the day that I actually bought them. One bag is currently stashed somewhere in the closet. Meanwhile, I use the other to stash all of my books and school junk in. I am hoping that things will be better the second time around. I must say though, only five hours into the challenge, and so far I am doing well. (I went to Raley’s and bought falafels a few hours ago, and I walked out of the store without a bag! :D)

For those of you who are interested in trying out canvas bags for the Compact Challenge or for the hell of it, purchase them at any nearby supermarkets near you. You could also find them here:

Link 1 and Link 2

Some are quite pricey for my pleasing. (Over twenty bucks for a grocery bag? What?!?!) But I guess it’s worth buying for the sake of going green.

I would also like to include this video in this blog because it has some tips on shopping bags in general.

The part that struck me the most when I first saw this clip is the part where the lady talks about canvas bags. While advertising them, she states: “Some are actually very trendy now.” “Trendy” and “in fashion” are two words that are intertwined as one to me. So when I first heard that statement, it made me think about how Yuniya Kawamura said that something is not “in fashion” unless it has been adopted by the majority of a society (2006). Honestly, I do not see a lot of people using canvas bags unless it's Trader Joe's or some store of that sort. So I would love to see what’s “in fashion” in the eco-friendly bag world. In addition to that, this clip sparked my interest in asking those who use eco-friendly bags why they started using them. Is it because someone inspired them to go green? Or is it pure competitive imitation to gain equality/respect as those who already have gone green (Kawamura 2006)?

That is all for now. Happy Belated Earth Day!!! And till then, take care.

1 comment:

be green 101 said...

I've heard of the debate of "paper of plastic" before. And I still choose paper. Being recycled or not, paper is compostable when plastic is not. Thrown away, it doesn't take long for paper to compost but it can take hundreds of years (or even thousands) for plastic. Besides I reuse the bag when I go shopping (savemarts or saveway).

However, I guess using the canvas bag is a better solution, especially when you have to pay so much for it, you would wanna reuse it. Wouldn't it be interesting if CA makes it state law that every one goes shopping with one of those?

- Nghia Trinh