Actually, they’re both just as bad for the environment after you take into consideration the energy it takes to produce them. Both paper and plastic take up a lot of energy to produce, and paper takes up much more space in landfills than plastic. And, because of the lack of water or air in landfills, neither plastic nor paper biodegrades. On the other hand, paper does have a much higher recycling rate than plastic.
In the end, the least environmentally harmful method is to bring your own bags, whether they be tote bags or old plastic and paper ones.
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