Paper or Plastic?
You are at the grocery store checking out and the clerk asks you, “paper or plastic?” Which one will you choose? Do you choose paper because you think it is better for the environment, or do you choose plastic because its easier to carry? Whatever choice you make is up to you, but I hope that after reading this essay you will be more informed about the choice you do make.
Paper comes from trees. It starts from logging, where trees are marked and cut down. In the logging process roads are made and large machines are used to load and transport the cut down trees. From a forest the trees are moved to a mill where they wait to dry. Once dried they are stripped of bark and cut into woodchips. Then the trees are cooked under heat and pressure, and soaked in limestone and sulphurous acid. This makes the chipped wood into a pulp. The pulp is washed and bleached and then color is added. Once the colored water is mixed with the pulp, the mixture is poured into a grid of bronze wires. The pulp is filtered out and rolled into paper and is then sent to another factory for folding, cutting, and printing to make grocery bags.
Plastic comes from oil. Oil is drilled from various sites and sent to a refinery. Oil is manipulated into Polymers. Polymers are manufactured into five types of plastic. One being plastic bags which is called Polyethylene. Raw Polyethylene can be made into any shape, size, form, or color. It’s water tight and can be printed on. The Polyethylene is heated to about 340 degrees Fahrenheit in a machine that pulls a long thin tube of cooling plastic from the Polyethylene. The tube has a hot bar dropped on it at certain times, depending how long or big the bag was going to be. The hot tube creates a line and each line represents the bottom of one bag and the top of another. These sections are then cut out and holes are stamped, which become the bags’ handles. Once they are cut and stamped, they are sent to another site for printing and...
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