Paper or Plastic?

Topics: Pollution, Recycling, Environmentalism Pages: 3 (972 words) Published: February 25, 2009
“Paper or plastic?” is the age-old question when you reach the end of your grocery-shopping trip. Have you ever wondered which is more environmentally safe? Paper and plastic in comparison have many pros and cons. They both effect our environment and animals positively and negatively. Their similar and contrasting qualities have a great impact on our earth. Plastic comes from oil, a hole is drilled and a pipe is inserted into the earth. Oil is forced by the earth’s pressure up the pipe, into a storage drum and taken to a refining facility where it is processed and set into molds. Plastic is a by-product of oil refining. One major factor concerning the use of plastic is the safety of animals. Over 100,000 birds and marine life die due to an encounter with plastic, and much of that pollution is plastic bags. Although, researchers have also found that plastic bags produce considerably less air pollution, water borne wastes and industrial solid-wastes compared to paper bags. When plastic bags are thrown away, the bags go to one of two places: into a landfill where the waste takes up about 7% of the landfill or the bags go to a recycling center. Plastic is easy to recycle because it only needs to be melted and set back into molds. Plastic impacts pollution in two ways as well: nearly half of the power to make a plastic bag is created by nuclear fission. While these effects are controversial, nuclear power is said to put no direct harm on the environment. Other sources used to make plastic such as coal fire are known to pollute. The second impact of plastic is through landfills. Biodegradable plastic is a misnomer because once burned, only about half of the plastic dissolves leaving millions of pieces of plastic in the bags place. Plastic is not able to dissolve because of the condition of the landfills. Landfills have become airtight and don’t allow for proper decomposition. Paper is the alternative source for us to take our groceries home in. Paper comes from trees...
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