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Recycling: Paper or Plastic?

            "Paper or plastic?" This is a question that millions of Americans are faced with daily, whether when buying groceries at a local supermarket or packing a lunch to take to work. Debates regarding this million-dollar question have been around for decades, as enthusiasts for both sides have strong and firm advantages and disadvantages that strengthen each case. Paper bag advocates argue that plastic bags negatively harm our environment and ecosystems, while those in favor of plastic bags refute that because of their recyclable nature, plastic bags are actually more beneficial to our earth. Although I do see the unsustainable use of both the paper and the plastic bag in today's society, I definitely believe that when recycled and used in moderation, plastic bags are not only more convenient than paper bags, but that they are much more environmentally friendly to our Earth, promoting a much more sustainable future for generations to come. .
             Most people who advocate for the banning of plastic bags fail to present their great ecological benefits, and more importantly, the even more harmful qualities of paper bags. If all the Americans who used plastic bags used paper bags instead in the year of 2013, this would have drastically increased our solid waste by over 100 million tons, taking up more than seven times the landfill space (Ketcham)! Not only this, but the biodegradable nature of our plastic bags allow for plastic bags to be recycled indefinitely, whereas paper bags "down recycle," meaning that the fibers deteriorate far too much after its continued re-pulping. Compared to the production of plastic bags, the EPA (paper bag production) spends much more money, using 91% greater energy than those producing plastic bags, and resulting in 50% more water pollution and 70% more air pollution (Weebly). On the other hand, plastic bags are ground up, extruded, and renewed within minutes.

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