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Plastics have been demonized for decades, but a British study shows that they are well down the pollution list. Here’s an interesting factoid from a recent article in The Economist.

“A cotton tote bag must be used 131 times before greenhouse gas emissions from making and transporting it improve on disposable plastic bags. The figure rises to 173 times if the plastic bags are reused as garbage bin liners. (We do that)

The carbon, (they surely mean CO2) footprint of a paper bag that is not recycled is four times that of a plastic bag.”

Here’s a blog I wrote six years ago.

2012  IWUZ at my local, Natural – and greener than thou – Foods store the other day to pick up some Chia seeds and high potency fish oil. I walked up to the check out, and the twenty-something young cashier chirped out: “Would you like a paper bag for 25 cents or a reusable bag for two dollars?”

I couldn’t resist. “Do you know they have to kill trees to make paper bags? No plastic bags?”

Twenty-Something: “Paper bags biodegrade. Plastic bags don’t.”

Me: “So what? It goes to a landfill.”

TS: Plastic bags could last for ten thousand years! That’s terrifying!

Me: “So what? It’s a landfill.”

TS: “That’s terrifying!”

Me: Why?”

TS: “That they would sit there for ten thousand years without biodegrading. That’s terrifying!”

Me: “It’s a land fill. Twenty five years ago I read an article in a science magazine about the Fresh Kills landfill in New York City. They dug down 30 feet and one of the things they found was a 15 year old ham sandwich, perfectly preserved. It hadn’t biodegraded at all.”

TS: “It must have been full of chemicals or something! That’s terrifying.”

Although the girl looked Caucasian, by this time I had the uneasy feeling I was dealing with a greenie who had been trained in North Korea.

Me: “No, it’s lack of oxygen. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.”

TS: “That’s terrifying!”

I gave up. I suppose I might have marginally raised my status in TS’s eyes had I told her that we re-use plastic grocery bags to line the garbage and trash containers; rather than buy them separately at the store. And we have four rain barrels. But I didn’t. I paid my 25 cents, and walked out with TS looking at my back and thinking; “That’s terrifying.”

I walked to my car, reflecting on brainwashed twenty-somethings who somehow are taught not to think, and thought: “That’s terrifying!”

Teach your children well!

Dave Reesor