Papel, plástico o traiga la suya?

Sobre la autor: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

Recientemente fui un domingo en la mañana a una tienda a comprar una bolsa para poner un regalo que mi hija menor llevaría a un cumpleaños. Usualmente tengo de estas bolsas recicladas para poner regalos en la casa, pero ese día descubrí que no quedaba ninguna. Una vez pagué tomé el recibo junto a la bolsa de regalo y los puse dentro de mi cartera. La cajera, contrariada, me indicó que no podía hacer esto ya que era política de la tienda no dejar salir a los clientes con mercancía en otra cosa que no fuese una bolsa de plástico. Sorprendida, puse mi compra en la bolsa que me brindó no sin antes proceder a indicarle que en Europa e inclusive en otras islas del Caribe los negocios imponen un impuesto a los clientes que utilizan bolsas de plástico o simplemente no las proveen. Su respuesta: política de la tienda.

Todavía recuerdo mis tiempos de niña en los cuales iba con mi mamá al supermercado y empacábamos nuestra compra en bolsas de papel. Éstas eran reusadas luego. De pequeña me gustaba cortarlas por las costuras y utilizar su exterior para dibujar y hacer manualidades. Pero un día estas bolsas color marrón desaparecieron de nuestras vidas y rutinas diarias cuando las bolsas plásticas aparecieron en 1977.

Cada año estas bolsas plásticas causan la muerte de cientos de miles de aves y animales marinos que las confunden con comida. [http://vidamarinapr.blogspot.com/2008_03_01_archive.html ] El papel, si no se recicla, puede llenar nuestros vertederos y contribuir a la larga al cambio climático. Tanto el papel como el plástico requieren mucha energía y materia prima para ser manufacturados.

Hay un dicho que dice que los hábitos viejos son terribles de cambiar y nuestras industrias y comercios locales han tardado en adoptar prácticas de sustentabilidad y amigables al medioambiente. Aunque algunos venden bolsas reutilizables para llevar la compra, es muy poca la gente que veo utilizándolas. A veces me siento diferente cuando indico en la tienda que mis compras van en bolso reusable. Algunos grupos sin fines de lucro y organizaciones ambientales en los Estados Unidos han propuesto un impuesto a las bolsas plásticas para desalentar su uso. En San Francisco, California, hay una ordenanza municipal desde el 2007 que prohíbe a las farmacias y supermercados utilizar estas bolsas. En Irlanda, y desde el 2002, los ciudadanos pagan un impuesto por utilizar las bolsas de plástico. Estos han logrado reducir su uso por un 90% y ha ayudado a sustentar económicamente programas de reciclaje. Mientras más ciudades y países prohíben su uso, más informados necesitan estar los consumidores sobre sus opciones que van más allá del papel y el plástico. Su mejor opción es traer la suya.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

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EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Follow-Up: What Do You Use: Paper, Plastic, or Reusable Bags?

About the author: Dominic Bridgers was a summer intern in the Office of Public Affairs.

I never really thought about what bags I use when I go to the grocery store. I usually tend to get plastic, because I feel I can reuse a plastic bag over and over again for taking out the trash, bringing in lunch, picking up the dog’s mess, etc.

Reusable 110, Plastic 22, Paper 21I collected data from the July 21st Question of the Week, “What do you use: Paper, Plastic, or Reusable bags?” Among people who use paper or plastic, the answer came down to be pretty even. However, I was very surprised to see that almost all of the commenters said that they use reusable bags. The reason why most people use reusable bags is because they feel as if those bags are sturdier and they hold more. I must say that when that I am in the grocery store, I have not once seen a person with a reusable bag!

Thank you for taking your time in responding to “What do you use: Paper, Plastic, or Reusable bags?”

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Question of the Week: What do you use: paper, plastic, or reusable bags?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Paper or plastic? We take shopping bags for granted, especially at the grocery store, and it’s easy to fill up several bags per trip. Both paper and plastic bags use resources, multiplied by the billions of bags used annually worldwide. You can reuse and recycle both paper and plastic types, which delays their being thrown away, or you can reduce waste with permanent bags.

What do you use: paper, plastic, or reusable bags?

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En español: Cada semana hacemos una pregunta relacionada al medio ambiente. Por favor comparta con nosotros sus pensamientos y comentarios. Siéntase en libertad de responder a comentarios anteriores o plantear nuevas ideas. Preguntas previas.

¿Papel o plástico? Damos por sentado las bolsas al momento de comprar, especialmente en el supermercado, y es fácil llenar varias bolsas en cada compra. Tanto las bolsas de papel como las de plástico utilizan recursos, multiplicados por miles de millones de bolsas usadas anualmente a nivel mundial. Usted puede reutilizar o reciclar tanto las de papel como las de plástico, lo cual puede aplazar el tener que disponer de ellas. O también puede reducir los desechos con bolsas permanentes.

¿Cuáles utiliza: bolsas de papel, plástico o reutilizables?

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Plastic bags are everywhere, what can we do?

About the author: Tami Fordham joined EPA’s Seattle office in June 2001 and moved to Anchorage, Alaska to join the Alaska Operations Office in September 2003. Tami serves as the Alaska Resource Extraction Tribal Policy Advisor and is the Tribal Coordinator for Tribes in Western Alaska.

Tami standing in front of a small airplaneThe last time I was visiting with my family in Washington I learned that my parents decided to start making canvas shopping bags. They were noticing plastic bags everywhere littering the streets and hanging in the trees, you may have seen this in your local area, and so decided to start making the canvas bags to sell at their local store and to their friends. I have one of their bags and when people ask who made it, I get to proudly share their story of making a difference in the environment.

I have the great honor to work in partnership with Tribal Governments in Western Alaska along the Lower Kuskokwim River. Plastic bags are often seen throughout the tundra and so many of the communities I work with have worked to ban plastic bags in their village. The environmental programs have made canvas bags available to the tribal members in the place of plastic bags. There are many people that are now taking plastic bags and crocheting them into purses and bags that can be re-used. To find out more, check out this website. Just a few weeks ago a woman all the way from Florida called our office to find out about different re-use projects that could be done because she wanted to find projects that made a difference for the environment.

One person can make a difference, just imagine if we all made one change in how we live our lives the ripple effect it would have in our world.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.