This weekend, I found myself at a supermarket in foreign territory (New Jersey) with an unwonted form of transportation (a car). My husband and I were stocking up on our way back to Manhattan after a visit with my mother.
“Paper or plastic?” the young woman at the check-out asked, which triggered a conversation among her, my husband and myself about which was worse.
I said it was a toss-up, which always surprises everyone, especially now that the tide has begun to turn against plastic.
Granted, paper is grown from a renewable resource where plastic is made from petroleum. And yes, it is heavily recycled and biodegrades in the environment instead of littering the landscape, clogging sewers and choking animals who eat it, as plastic does. But paper takes more energy and water to produce, and generates more greenhouse gases.
Environmentally speaking, the only good choice is reusable bags — which my husband and I, embarrassingly, had none of that day.
The check-out person cheerily noted that lots of her customers had started bringing reusable bags. When I pressed for numbers, she hazarded 30 percent. Really??? Well, 30 percent including those who said they forgot to bring them…like us.
That still sounded like progress to me. Intention isn’t the same as action, but surely must be a precursor.