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The Size Of The Paper Bag Originally Depended On How Many Bags Of Sugar It Could Hold

Paper Bag Day

Each July 12th, we recognize the significance of an invention that we take for granted on Paper Bag Day. Millions of people use paper bags every day. Readily recyclable, paper bags have been around for many years.  American inventor, Francis Wolle, received credit for his patent of the first paper bag machine in 1852. Margaret E. Knight became known as “the mother of the grocery bag” after she designed the square, flat bottom and the machine that would fold and paste them in 1870. Over the years, other inventors have received recognition and patents for their inventions of devices that improve the paper bag or its production.


1. Paper bags takes an average of one month to decompose: While a paper bag takes an average of one month to decompose, it can take a plastic bag much longer. According to the EPA, A plastic bag might be gone in anywhere from 10 to 100 years (estimates vary) if exposed to the sun, but its environmental legacy may last forever. While grocery stores pay less for plastic bags as they are cheaper to produce, the long term environmental impact costs the plant more as a whole. Counting the cost not only has to do with initial price, but also the cumulative effect created by the “cheaper” front end decision.

2. Paper bags are made from trees, which is a renewable resource: Paper bags are made from trees and this is a renewable resource. On the other hand, plastic bags are generally made from polyethylene and from petroleum jelly, and this is a non-renewable resource. Without special treatment, they accumulate in the environment and increase the destructive process therein.

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3. A paper bag can hold as many as 14 grocery items: A standard paper bag can hold as many as 14 grocery items. In comparison, a standard plastic bag can usually only hold up to 10 items. That being said, one needs more plastic bags to store their groceries. This now increases the destructive environmental impact on the planet as well.

4. Paper bags are more likely to be recycled than plastic bags: Research suggests that paper bags are more likely to be recycled than plastic bags, with up to 20% of paper bags being recycled and less than 1% of plastic bags. According to the nonprofit Worldwatch Institute, Americans only recycle 0.6 percent of the 100 billion plastic bags they take home from stores every year; the rest end up in landfills or as litter.

5. It takes less energy to produce paper bags: It takes less energy to produce paper bags than plastic bags. This equates to the reduction of greenhouse gases produced when manufacturing them. This contributes to an increase in healthy, consumable vegetation, decrease in global warming from lower negative impact on the ozone layer, and a decrease in smog pollution.

6. Originally measured by how many bags of sugar they could hold: When paper bags were first made, their size was measured by how many bags of sugar they could hold.

7. Paper bags are safer for pets: Paper bags are safer for pets, wildlife and marine life as animals are less likely to choke or get trapped in the handles. Since they decompose hundreds of times faster than plastic, their impact is lessened amongst the natural habitats of thousands of creatures. Due to the greenhouse gas effect being lessened, the food supply for such creatures is increased and the negative effect on their environment is minimized.

8. Paper bags can be reused in the home: Paper bags can be reused in the home to store some foods and make them last longer. Two examples are bananas and mushrooms, as the dark and dry atmosphere helps to maintain these foods’ shelf life. Moisture attaching to foods such as these make them break down and become a breeding ground for bacteria very quickly.

9. A paper bag can be used to create compost: It is possible to use a paper bag to fill with waste to create compost. Furthermore, paper bags can be composted. Due to their biodegradability, they are an excellent choice to utilize in your compost bin. Since they are made from trees and break down rather quickly, they naturally aid in oxygenation and sustainability.

10. Paper is a much more viable option: The average family would need just four paper bags per week for their grocery shopping and this equals 208 per year. In comparison, eight plastic bags would be needed for the same amount of shopping and this amounts to 416 per year. When compared with the above examples, you can see how paper would be a much more viable option. The accumulation of less wasted bags and the global impact on the environment decreases dramatically when you make this rational and conscious choice in the grocery store.

11. Only two-thirds of the power used in the manufacture of paper bags: Renewable, carbon-neutral resources contribute to approximately two-thirds of the power used in the manufacture of paper bags. This also speaks to the decrease on the negative impact on our planet. Utilizing renewable resources such as these keeps manufacturing outlets from introducing new and destructive waste and by products into our environment.

12. Can save around 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space:If 1 ton of paper bags are recycled, this saves around 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space. With the increase in population every day, the need for more viable space to store and process waste is vital to global survival. Every foot of space helps.


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