If you’re one of the older members of society and grew up in the 50s, 60s, or 70s, you probably remember nearly everything being packaged in paper, and when you left the grocery store, everything was packed in brown paper bags. Then, everything suddenly changed, and the plastic bags we use today were introduced.
Why did that happen, and why do we need to consider switching back to paper bags? (including many other sustainable products, like custom printed tissue paper) Here’s why.
Why Did We Switch to Plastic Bags?
The majority of Western society switched to plastic bags almost entirely by the 1970s. At the time, paper bags were considered harmful to the environment. This is because paper products were being made in unsustainable ways. Logging companies were chopping down massive swathes of forestry around the world, and that created major environmental scares for everything from greenhouse gasses to animals losing their habitats and moving closer to humans.
As a result, the plastic bag was invented. It was supposed to be a cheap alternative to paper that was more resilient, and because it could be reused, it was supposed to be eco-friendly.
Quickly, stores in several countries started to switch from paper bags to plastic bags, and that’s why some of our older readers suddenly saw the paper bags they grew up with disappear from most stores in favor of the plastic we use today.
Why are Plastic Bags Bad?
So, if paper bags were horrible for the environment, and plastic bags solved that problem, why is everyone fired up over plastic bags, now? Well, plastic bags didn’t do what they promised. They were supposed to be cheap, eco-friendly, and reusable. As you’ve probably noticed, the only true part of that claim is that they’re cheap.
Plastic bags aren’t biodegradable. Once they’re thrown away, they sit in the environment and decay for hundreds of years. That’s a huge problem. On a small scale, it’s not too important, but plastic bags are used and wasted so frequently that they’re destroying natural environments and the oceans at an astonishing rate, and it’s difficult to counteract that.
The manufacturing of plastic bags is also destructive. The chemicals used to make plastic are toxic in and of themselves, and they leak into the atmosphere throughout the entire manufacturing process.
How Are Paper Bags the Solution?
Paper bags weren’t great for the environment in the past, but they are the solution now. In the past, they were only bad because of how humans went about making them. The bags themselves, and the concept behind them, were fine.
In recent years, technological advancements and a better understanding of ecosystems has made the production of paper bags incredibly eco-friendly.
Rather than cutting down whole forests, seaweed, hemp, or sustainably logged trees are used. This gets rid of all the problems associated with the paper bags of the past, and we can now use them without hurting the environment at all.