There is rather heated debate over whether is better to use paper shopping bags or plastic ones. However, clearly the best thing to do for the planet is to use neither, and instead bring your own re-usable bag to the store. Though the negative environmental impact of plastic bags seems to get the most attention, in fact paper and plastic disposable bags appear to be about equal in their potential for environmental damage. In some ways, paper bags are actually worse for the environment than plastic bags: they require more energy to manufacture, increase the demand for paper pulp from old-growth forests, and take up more space in the landfill than do plastic bags. By far the greenest choice is to simply purchase a few sturdy canvass bags that can be re-used again and again, making disposable shopping bags unnecessary.
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