When shopping for groceries, one of the questions employees always used to ask is, “Paper or plastic?”. Today, many grocery stores are encouraging shoppers to use reusable bags.

While selling reusable shopping bags, Walmart does not offer paper to its customers, and many retailers have followed suit.

Today, we will discuss the advantages of using paper bags over plastic. It is essential consumers understand the benefits so they can take appropriate measures to protect the Earth.

paper vs plastic infographic

Key takeaways

  • Paper bags are better for the environment.
  • Plastic bags can contain chemicals and cause serious health concerns.
  • Plastic bags can harm ocean life.
  • Paper bags are entirely biodegradable.
  • Paper bags recycle easier.
  • Paper bags are easier to use and are more durable.
  • Paper Bags Contribute to Re-Forestation.
paper bag and plastic bag holding a globe

Advantages of Using Paper Bags Over Plastic

There are many reasons you should consider using paper over plastic for your groceries and other purchases. As we explore the reasons, consider how each of these can impact your life, the lives of others, and the environment.

Paper Bags Are Better for the Environment

One of the most significant and obvious advantages of using paper bags over plastic is the benefit to the environment. Plastic bags are made with chemicals that pollute the air.

Plastic bags also take up to 450 years to decompose in a landfill, whereas paper bags will decompose in 2 to 4 weeks.

If everyone would switch to paper bags, landfills would not become overly filled with plastic.

environment decals with paper background

Plastic Bags Can Be Carcinogenic

Some plastic bags are made with known carcinogens, such as styrene or bisphenol-A. Not only can these chemicals cause cancer, but they can also lead to heart disease and even harm the reproductive systems of humans.

Brown paper bags are made from wood pulp that is glued together at the seams. These bags are non-toxic and do not contain a range of carcinogenic chemicals like plastic bags.

Plastic Bags Cause Harm to Ocean Creatures

Because many people do not dispose of plastic bags properly, they often end up in our oceans. According to scientists, there are around 5.25 trillion pounds of plastic in the world’s oceans right now.

stop ocean pollution infographic

You may not realize plastic bags can kill sea life.

Sea creatures that eat jellyfish can mistake a plastic bag for one and consume it, causing great harm.

Fish, turtles, dolphins, and other sea creatures can become entangled in plastic bags and be unable to eat.

Plastic bags also release chemicals into the ocean water, which has negative impacts on both humans and sea life.

If a paper bag makes its way into the ocean, it breaks down quickly and does not cause harm to animals or humans.

turtle eating a plastic bag in the ocean

Paper Bags Are Entirely Biodegradable

Although plastic bags can be recycled, they do not break down on their own, at least not for hundreds of years.

Paper bags are entirely biodegradable and return to the earth after breaking down. Paper bags do not release any harmful chemicals into the soil, so they do not harm groundwater, which can impact cattle, other animals, and humans.

Paper Bags Can Be Recycled Easier

Both plastic and paper bags are recyclable, but there are things you should know. When you recycle a plastic bag, it must go through a long process to become something else, even another bag.

During the melting down process, plastic releases noxious chemicals that are bad for the environment.

Paper is simple to recycle. Water is added to the paper to help break it down faster.

During this process, the paper becomes watery pulp again, and this pulp can be made into many paper products, including paper, toilet paper, boxes, and more.

recyclable stamp on a paper bag

Paper Bags Are More Durable

Although some would argue, paper bags are generally sturdier and more lasting than plastic. Paper does have a vulnerability against water, but paper bags are much thicker than thin plastic, which does not hold up well to shopping adventures.

Today’s plastic bags are made with the thinnest of plastic, making them much easier to tear. Most everyone has had the annoying experience of carrying a bag of groceries when a plastic bag breaks.

If you want your purchases protected against drops, consider paper. You can easily fold paper bags and reuse them on your next shopping trip so you can protect the environment.

Paper Bags Are Easier to Use

If you have ever paid attention to the inside dimensions of paper bags and plastic, you know there are differences. Plastic bags are generally much smaller and do not open as wide as paper bags.

When you need to fit a lot of purchases in a bag, paper is the way to go. With the wider opening, paper bags are easier to load with items, leaving you with fewer headaches while shopping.

woman holding a paper bag at a bakery shop

Paper Bags Contribute to Re-Forestation

While this may seem false, it is verifiably true. Because paper bag manufacturers are using Earth’s natural resources in the form of wood, they plant trees to replace those they cut down.

Most paper bag companies use wood that is 100% sustainable. By using paper over plastic, you are actually helping forests around the world grow in volume.

Choose Paper Over Plastic Whenever Possible

When you have a choice, paper bags are preferable to plastic because of the many advantages above. Paper is better for the environment because it does not harm the water supply, sea life, humans, or other animals.

If you are trying to decide between paper or plastic, paper should always win when shopping for purchases.

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