Pandodyssey™ Panda Blog

This is a blog devoted to Giant Panda enthusiasts, environmental wanna-bes and peace loving funimals, world-wide.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Recycle vs. Reuse

Boxers or briefs?

Not that age old question, but a different one: paper or plastic? The debate rages on! It occurred to me today that I can't even remember a time when a trip to the grocery store didn't end with a bored cashier's perfunctory inquiry: "Paper or plastic?"

Plastic bags used to be the environmental choice. Use plastic bags and save a tree! Now plastic bags are the bane of society, all the world over. Plastic is evil because it doesn't break down in the environment. Plastic is evil because it creates excess garbage. Plastic is evil because it's petroleum-based and we need every lick of oil for our cars until we can wean ourselves from the petroleum teat. Okay I get it. Plastic is bad. But then what do I do about it? Avoid it at all costs? Go bankrupt buying those nifty Whole Foods cotton bags at $6 a pop? (Whole Foods, overrated and overpriced.)

The bags I get from Target have helpful hints printed on them as to reuse ("repurpose" is what the cool kids call it), but does that even help the environment really? I reuse every plastic bag I get, mostly for picking up dog poop. Does the fact that I'm not aimlessly throwing the plastic bags away truly help the environment? Or does the fact that plastic doesn't break down mean I am actually creating little time capsules of dog poop, enshrining it for decades in non-biodegradable plastic tombs? For that matter, are the "biodegradeable" bags truly biodegradeable, and thus an acceptable alternative?

You know who must struggle the most with this? The poor bag boys (ahem, bag persons. I guess.) They have a really hard job, tiptoeing that fine line between cramming your stuff into too few bags - causing spillage of groceries and sundries, breakage of molecule-thin-bags, and incensing of soccer moms with soccer kids in tow - or, double, triple, quadruple bagging heavy, drippy, and frozen items, thusly creating the excess garbage that refuses to break down into anything remotely organic.

I had zero point to all this, aside from being mildly annoyed that there is little reliable information available for such a simple question.

Now excuse me while I go train my dog to poop into a paper bag.

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