Plastic Garbage Bags

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Plastic Garbage Bags

So who are you?  Plastic bag from the grocery, paper bag or reusable bag?  Lets first look at the difference between plastic and paper bags.

This is an excellent comparison for those who feel guilty for using plastic bags. Yes I know where it is from and I checked the numbers and they are consistent with other sources – but their chart was just way cooler.

Then there are those who must insist on using reusable bags.  This is an investment – if even only a small one.  According to sources – including information broadcast within a podcast from and others – it takes the energy of about 200 to 500 plastic bags to make one reusable bag.  So to break even just on the energy usage, assume 5 bags of groceries a week it would take from 40 weeks to 100 weeks just to break even on energy consumptions.  I don’t know about you folks but the free reusable bags I got did not make it but a few months before handles tore loose – I assume if I am wiling to pay more I’ll get a better bag – but, the ole Yankee Thrift (a result of short arms and deep pockets) just will not let me tear loose of the money to buy a reusable grocery bag.


Now the gross stuff – long before my resalable bag’s handle tore loose – it started to smell.  This is not a good sign for bags, cheese yes, bags no.  Whoa – what was that sticking to the inside of the bag?  This can’t be good!  (Yep – I was right…)

• In the May 2012 issue of “The Journal of Infectious Diseases” it was reported that the norovirus can be spread by using contaminated reusable shopping bags.

• May 9, 2012 issue of Boston Globe.  The rise of reusable grocery bags has raised concerns about the a variety of foodborne pathogens, including listeria and salmonella.

• September 29, 2011 Appetite for Health:  In the study, researchers at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University intercepted shoppers in CA and AZ and tested 84 reusable grocery bags for bacteria that cause food borne illness, like E. coli and Listeria.  While they did not find the typical bacteria that they were looking for, the bags were not squeaky clean. Other bacteria were isolated were several opportunistic pathogens that could cause GI upset and other symptoms among those with weakened immune systems.

So what’s the trade off? Perhaps you should ditch plastic grocery bags for paper, which may or may not be the best choice – but ditching both of these for reusable bags? I think my mind has just been made up.  So you stop using plastic grocery bags and you think you are saving the planet  Maybe not – you are not looking at the trade offs, in short just to break even on the energy to make a reusable bag you need to use it from 1 to 2 years.  This does not include that fact of the energy needed to wash the bag – and as you have seen – they need to be washed regularly hot water!  They is also the trade off of home and office garbage bags.  My plastic bags are used to line trash cans and sometimes use them to carry my lunch to work. So after multiple uses of the bags – those not tied to garbage trash – which do go to landfills – go to be recycled.  They are reused, used up and recycled.  If you do not have these bags, one still need to buy garbage can liners for the home and figure out if you carry your lunch to work in the old GI Joe box or the Hello Kitty one.

The ban on plastic garbage bags is coming from two areas best I can decipher.

The first is the litter – and let me tell you there are some real pigs.  I have found the plastic bags in some of the most remote wilderness locations.  The bags are improperly discarded and/or can travel on the slightest whiff of a breeze.  This is wrong no matter the items discarded.  In this case it is not the bag but the user of the bag that needs to be held accountable

The second is guilt and knot headed high mindedness.  You feel as though you do not like plastic bags because they are made from petroleum, they do not decay quickly and these you high mindedness what the rest or the world to use paper bags and or reusable bags – your guilt and misinformation on the sources of the problems drives you to draft and pass laws that make the problems worse and remove choices.  For a plastic reusable bag is still better than using one’s infested canvas bag.

Actually, I am old enough to remember when groceries when your purchased them were boxed up for you in the boxes that delivered the supplies to the store.


As for me – I shall celebrate the plastic bag and the ability to make an informed choice.  This is why you read Aegis Journal – no doubt.

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