Paper bags are often seen as a more sustainable alternative to plastic bags. But are they really as environmentally friendly as many think? In this article we look at the reasons why paper bags from the supermarket are not a good idea and what more sustainable alternatives there are.
The production of paper bags
Paper bags are made from wood that comes from forests. However, deforestation has a serious impact on the environment. Forests are important habitats for animals and plants, they produce oxygen and store carbon. Deforestation contributes to the climate crisis because less carbon is stored in forests and the wood leads to CO2 emissions when it is burned.
The production of paper bags requires a significant amount of water, energy and chemicals. This production therefore causes a higher environmental impact in the first step than the production of plastic bags.
The disposal of paper bags
Paper bags are not as durable as plastic bags and can easily tear or become soggy. They are also heavier than plastic bags and therefore require more space for transport and storage.
Recycling paper bags is often difficult because of the dyes, inks and adhesives they contain. A large number of paper bags are therefore not recycled, but end up in landfills or incineration. This contributes to environmental pollution and climate change.
Sustainable alternatives to paper bags
One supposed alternative is compostable bioplastic bags, which are made from renewable raw materials such as corn starch. However, bioplastic bags are not as environmentally friendly as they appear at first glance. They can only be composted under certain conditions, which is not possible in many communities, and they can also contaminate recycling facilities, making it difficult to recycle plastic. Therefore, we strongly advise against such bioplastic bags.
An actual alternative to paper bags are reusable shopping bags made from recycled material, organic cotton or other sustainable materials. These bags are durable and can be reused many times. They can also be washed when needed, making them more hygienic and, most importantly, more sustainable than disposable paper bags.
Paper bags are not a good choice when it comes to sustainability. Their production requires a lot of resources and their disposal is often problematic. However, there are alternatives like reusable bags that are more environmentally friendly and sustainable. It is up to each of us to rethink our everyday choices and choose environmentally conscious alternatives.