Paper or Plastic?

One day in my Global Environmental Issues class, a professor showed us a video on the floating island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean, commonly called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I never knew the trouble that the convenient plastic bag could cause. On that day I decided to make a change in my life to reduce my contribution to the garbage patch and my carbon footprint in general. I wanted to do something productive to make a difference. I decided to stop using plastic bags. It may be a small step but at least it’s a step in the right direction. By switching to reusable bags I became a little greener and much happier.

I bought my first bag on Earth Day 2007 and I haven’t looked back. Now I use that bag and the few others I have accumulated every time I buy groceries or take a trip to the mall. Being a very poor college student, I never need more than one or two reusable bags when I shop. Those few bags carry for me about the same amount approximately seven plastic bags would hold — not to mention they are foldable and fit into my purse that I carry everywhere.

Now, with my reusable bags, I am helping the planet and making my walk to the apartment with the groceries much easier. Let’s face it: Two bags are easier to manage than seven that have a tendency to rip and tear. Next time a cashier asks you; “Paper or plastic?” say, “Neither!” and pull out your reusable shopping bag instead.

About the Author: Ashley White is a current undergraduate student at Virginia Tech. She is interning with OCHPEE for the summer.