Not very long ago, shoppers in virtually every store were met with a single, continually recurring question at the checkout counter: Paper or plastic? This question was simple enough on the surface. Some preferred the paper bags with their sturdiness and squared-off edges that were so well suited to the shape of the hand. Others insisted plastic bags were better because they had handles for easier carrying and could be tied to keep items from rolling around in the car during transport.

Today, the paper option has all but faded from existence. Though these bags were better for the environment, they were also more expensive to produce. Besides, plastic eventually became the favored choice for shoppers, so continuing to keep paper bags on hand seemed pointless. This, of course, led to a certain development the world didn’t exactly plan for. 

Bags by the Numbers

On last report, an estimated 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are being handed out to shoppers across the globe each year. Though some people send them to recycle centers or reuse them, nearly 4 trillion of these bags make their way into the world’s oceans. They’re harming marine life, contributing to flooding and leading to a long list of other problems. Regardless, they’re still preferred by consumers and being used by countless stores. By some accounts, those that end up in the recycling bin require more resources to be recycled than they save in the long run. 

An Effective Solution

Shoppers of today may not often have the option of paper bags at their disposal, but they certainly have other choices. Reusable bags, such as those from Onya Life, are readily available to consumers at this point. They can be found in a wide range of sizes and shapes with a never-ending selection of designs now on the market. While many consumers seek out these types of bags of their own free will, some stores are fostering the situation by only offering this option.

Whether people choose their own assortments of reusable bags to take along on shopping trips or simply pick up a few at the checkout line, they’re helping to cut down on the number of plastic bags in circulation. In turn, this reduces the amount of plastic contributing to the world’s ever-growing pollution problem. Since these bags are reused rather than continually needing to be recycled, they’re consuming far fewer resources in the long run as well.

All Things Considered

Some countries have placed restrictions or outright bans on single-use plastic bags. England, India and Australia are included in this movement. All have already seen a drastic reduction in the number of plastic bags floating around their cities. Today’s shoppers are no longer faced with the conundrum of choosing paper or plastic bags. For quite some time, plastic was the only option available in many areas. At this point, though, plastic may be on its way out altogether. Reusable shopping bags have become the option of choice for several people. Whether they’re favoring this alternative from an eco-conscious perspective or out of mere convenience, it’s bound to make a difference moving forward.


By Leonel Thompson

Anna Thompson: Anna, a former fashion editor, offers readers a curated look into the world of high fashion. Her blog features runway analysis, designer profiles, and style tips.