Grocery Bags: Paper or Plastic?

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I was composting corn husks this last week when I realized that I had been putting a lot of green in my compost and no brown. To compost you need 1 part nitrogen which is the brown (this includes pine cones, leaves, and weeds) to 15 to 30 parts carbon which is the green (this includes vegetable peelings, but no meat or grease). Well, we don’t have a pine tree, and thank goodness the leaves are still on the trees. It was then I remembered you could use newspapers. So I shredded up some of my newspapers and got the compost going again.

Then someone told me I could have used the paper bags I get out of the store for the brown in my compost. Well, I realized I didn’t have any paper bags, I always get plastic.

There are three different stores we frequent, depending, of course, on which offers the best deals on groceries that week. There is the store we go to once a month that you bag your own and you get a good deal. When we go there, I make sure I bring my recyclable bags.

The best store we go to I think is the one who just changed to bags that are 100 percent biodegradable. The cashier was a little worried the first time I got them and said they could biodegrade as I went to the car. It didn’t quite happen, but I felt good about it anyway.

Now the other they just stick your groceries in a plastic bag and you’re done. That’s the store we are going to this morning.

You know I always make myself feel better because we reuse the plastic bags so much – one for the trash in the bathroom, and of course the kitty litter and dog waste. So we’re reusing right? There is reduce, reuse, and recycle. Aha … but oldest daughter informed me, the plastic bags are still floating over farmlands, and causing a lot of pollution.

Then, you have to think of paper bags whose former life was a tree, and the amount of machinery that was used to fell those trees. It takes a lot of natural resources to make a paper bag. Of course they decompose more rapidly than plastic – but at what expense? The debate goes on and on.

So what to do? I’m going to be brave, go to that plastic bag store this morning, with my recyclable bags and hand them to the cashier before she starts shoving the food in the plastic bags. Also, I’m going to leave bags in both cars so that when I have to stop by for just a few things they will be there for me to use. It shouldn’t be too hard to do but, as with every lifestyle change, it will take some getting used to.