Environment Waste Management Solid Waste Management Plastic Waste Management

Are plastic grocery bags really that bad for the environment?

Plastic Waste Management

Summary

Research scientist Calvin Lakhan highlights what we can do as consumers to make better choices.

Perspectives and insights

  • To accrue the benefits of a reusable paper or cloth bag, you have to reuse it literally hundreds of times.
  • Even though reusable bags (for instance, cloth bags) appear sustainable, if we don’t remember to use them consistently, we end up using more energy to create them than it would to create a plastic one.
  • There’s very rarely a black and white answer while discussing sustainable consumption.

Xoologue - a discussion between Xoo and Moo

Xoo: I liked reading this brief report and analysis, Moo. It lays things out as they are.

Moo: I read it too. I however find it difficult to digest the hypothesis that plastics might actually do good for sustainability in some cases.

Xoo: But you read the reasoning. Isn’t it compelling?

Moo: I’m not sure if it’s compelling, but it is indeed possible that in some cases such as food items using plastics to store them, plastics could significantly reduce food waste.

Xoo: I agree with you. All said, plastics are so pervasive because they are so useful.

Moo: It’s not every time that we are both fully agreed on an issue, Xoo, but this is one such occasion - like them or not, plastics are really useful. So, what’s the way forward for plastics, Xoo?

Xoo: Well, one way could be biodegradable plastics.

Moo: But they are way more expensive than petro-plastics

Xoo: So the other way is what the report correctly points out: significantly increase the use of reusable & durable plastics and use these as long as we can.

Moo: That calls for not just a change in the mindset of the producer, Xoo, but also in the mindset of the end user. The latter isn’t so easy.

Xoo: And that’s the second thing, Moo, we agree upon. And that too on the same day.