Plastic shopping bags were originally pitched as tree saving alternatives to paper bags, but in the end turned out to be just as destructive to the environment as virgin paper production, if not moreso, because plastic made from petroleum (oil) does not biodegrade.
Sadly, a huge volume of plastic bag litter has drifted far into the oceans, creating continent sized islands of trash that break into small particles. Fish and thus people often eventually eat the particles … you get the whole toxic picture.
To offset ocean pollution, many cities and counties, especially in coastal states like California, have passed “bag ban” laws that prohibit use of plastic bags by stores.
The true green alternative to paper or plastic is resuable bags. As I wrote about in an earlier post, I trained myself to use resuables by purchasing new bags at the store for about $1 each every time I left my stash in the car or at home. After I’d spent about $30, I started to remember to bring the stash.
Most grocers sell resuable bags at checkout for affordable prices. Others provide them free.
You can also order reusable bags online:
Resuable bags should be kept dry, and checked and cleaned routinely to maintain sanitation, but are generally no more germ-ridden than any public surface you would normally encounter.