Thursday, April 3, 2008

Cloth bags being promoted to replace paper, plastic.

The rules keep changing and it seems to me the only reason is to make more money for environmentalists. As one of their programs begins to work, the rules seem to change. The only reason I can see is that with each new change, or reversal of a previous change, someone is in line to make a bundle of money.

This time around, it’s the bags we use to bring goods home from stores. Paper bags were once the favored way for stuff we bought at grocery stores. Paper bags had many uses other than just toting stuff home. In my home, we put empty bottles in bags to take them back to stores for deposit refunds. This was just one use for the paper bags.

Still popular, the paper bag
Then we were told that paper bags were killing too many trees. We were never told by the promoters of the cause that America has more trees today than we had in the 1700s because tree plantings outnumbered those felled by industries. So, we were urged to switch to plastic bags. Reluctantly, for the most part, we did.

The bags were terrible. Still are. They didn’t hold as much as the paper bags. They easily ripped spilling contents all over the place. Some of us asked for paper when given that choice again. But a change in paper bags made them more brittle and rip easily. Double bagging became necessary.

Little gadgets, which my wife and I never bought, were invented to carry more plastic bags at once by slipping into the handles on those bags. Paper didn’t have handles. We tried. Honestly, we tried to make the switch, except in the winter when we preferred paper. You see, we could put little twigs into paper bags and use the combination to easily start fires in our fireplace.
Very flimsy, the plastic bag didn't carry as much without breaking. We never liked them in our family.
But then plastic bags became the rage. Many people used them and one had to ask specifically for paper bags. Someone needed to make more money so did a study that indicated that we should use “reusable” cloth bags. Now instead of getting the bags at the checkout counter, we were told we should buy these new cloth bags. One bag maker at least is attempting to convince stores that advertising on the bags would give long term benefit to the stores and the bags could be given free.
My wife likes the cloth bag and would use it if her memory were just a little better.

I think much of this recycle stuff is sort of like all the food scares we’ve had over the years. Remember, for example, when cranberries and bacon would cause cancer? I don’t recall the exact numbers, but it was pointed out that if you ate something like 500 pounds of cranberries every day for 30 years or 500 pounds of bacon every day for about the same period, you’d have a chance of getting cancer. I think we still eat cranberries and bacon. Let me acknowledge, incidentally, my figures might be exaggerated. But not by much.

I’m not sure just what all the ramifications are of paper and plastic bags. But I’d bet as soon as the cloth ones stop being bought with regularity, we’ll face another environmental crisis and something else will be introduced.

My wife does have a cloth bag which she uses when she remembers to take it into the store. But she still prefers paper bags. But she says she likes the cloth bags and doesn’t mind using one. It’s a trial each of us should take and then decide. Earth Day is just three weeks away and the use of cloth bags just might be a benefit, even though I’m not yet convinced.


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