Pros and Cons of Paper Vs. Plastic Vs. Canvas

Which is the best for the environment, and your lifestyle?

Plastic bags litter the roads and creeks, but they also are lightweight and inexpensive. Paper bags are made from a sustainable product and compostable, but the trees consume large amounts of water to grow. Canvas bags are reusable many times more than plastic or paper, but have been found to contain lead and if not washed regularly can harbor bacteria that can transfer to grocery products.

So what’s a consumer to do? Here are a few pros and cons to consider in decision-making.

Canvas Pro Con Reusable many times If not cleaned regularly can harbor bacteria Stronger than paper or plastic Some canvas bags have been found to contain lead Can be made out of post-consumer recycled material Depending on the manufacturing process may leave a large carbon footprint
Paper Pro Con Made from trees, a sustainable resource Trees need water, and lots of it to grow and be harvested Made from 40 to 100 percent recycled material Not waterproof Biodegradable (compostable) and recyclable Much of the raw material is not manufactured in U.S. Plastic Pro Con Lightweight and inexpensive Wind up as trash on roadways, creeks and other bodies of water
Recyclable Not all bags get recycled and end up in landfills Waterproof Not biodegradable

Read more about the differences between the three options in The Paper Vs. Plastic Bag Fight: Does Canvas Win?


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