The answer is paper of course. For all of you out there who think it is plastic or absentmindedly answer the nice bag boy/girl at the checkout “oh plastic is fine,” have you ever tried to compost a plastic bag?
Or do you know the half-life of a plastic bag once it enters a landfill? Or better yet, are you aware that according to numerous environmental authorities, over 60 percent of what we put into a landfill is either compostable or recyclable? No worries, out of sight out of mind, right? Now consider it takes over 400 years for one plastic bag just to breakdown into smaller pieces—smaller pieces, not decomposing. Multiply that by how many plastic bags you have shoved into another larger plastic bag, which you have been meaning to recycle, but generally leave under the sink. Now you have a problem.
The solution is paper bags. Remember the days when we were all tree huggers and crusaded to save our precious forests, forsaking the paper bag, because plastic was cheaper and recyclable? Guess what? Paper recycles itself naturally and is a sustainable resource, unlike a plastic bag. But even better, the best way to prevent the use of any bags is to reuse old ones and bring your own. We use the paper bags from the store as our garbage bags in the house. Again, they decompose quicker and allow for the trash inside doing the same.
If you want to go even further, and you should, composting is the next step. It’s not a crazy new concept. (Your grandparents were most likely doing it before you thought it was vogue and trendy). It is the number one way to reduce the amount of trash you throw out, by over 50 percent. Every piece of organic material, from table scrapes, the undesirable bits and pieces from fruits and vegetables, paper, dog poo, yard waste, you name it, can go to the compost pile, opposed to the trash. Even urban composting is available, made possible by small self-contained units. But if you have the space, yard composting is easy.