Is Paper Really More Eco-Friendly?

More and more cities in the Philippines are banning the use of plastic.  In Pasig, I’ve experienced getting paper bags from Watsons in Hypermart and KFC.  The question is though, is it really more eco-friendly?  Yes, plastic bags are terrible because of all the toxic chemicals it requires for manufacturing and at the same time, all the non-biodregadable garbage it causes.  However, to me, using paper isn’t a lot better.

  • Paper uses trees.  I haven’t seen any paper bags in use in the said cities that say 100% recycled paper.
  • To save costs, the paper bags they give away are very flimsy that you can’t reuse them.  At the very least, the plastic bags before could be reused to throw trash.
  • Paper, if not recycled, still ends up in the trash dumps.
  • I know that paper contaminated by oil from food (eg. Big Mac cartons and pizza boxes) cannot be recycled.

So in the end, is it a lot better?  Indeed paper is the more environmental product but the key should be sustainability.  In the end, you’re still creating a new product but only now, it’s made of paper.  I wonder if they really studied the long term effects of this.  Would anyone care to enlighten me?  Am I wrong?

My solution: use reusable bags!  We have tons of recyclable bags thanks to more and more establishments making use of them rather than giving out plastic or paper.  One of my favorite gifts from Christmas was a Mis Cosas carry all from ManilaMommy.  It’s huge and made of rip-stop material so you can carry heavy groceries in it.

Mis Cosas bags are available at

I think we have around 20 or so reusable bags at home – mostly canvas, some waterproof.  So you don’t forget to bring them, here’s a suggestion:

  1. Place the container of reusable bags near your garage door so you can just pick one up on your way out.
  2. Keep 1 or 2 reusable bags in the car.
  3. Keep 1 foldable bag in your shoulder bag.
In Hong Kong, establishments charge about Php 3-5 for a store-provided bag.  I think this is a much better policy because there is a disincentive for those who don’t reuse (or forget to bring their reusable bag).
For those who are experiencing this new paper bag policy, how do you feel about it?



This entry was posted in OC Issues, OC On-the-Go and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Is Paper Really More Eco-Friendly?

  1. Eliza says:

    I am super in favor of charging for bags instead of providing paper. If people are charged, they’re more likely to bring their own bags or trolleys for shopping.

    They do this in China. I forgot my reusable bag once and had to carry a pair of jeans I bought from a store around the mall. They were charging 5RMB for the bag. That’s half my cab fare noh.

  2. Mommy G says:

    Target does something a bit different. They give a savings of $0.10 (I think) if you use your own bag. I use Envirosax naman if I can. It’s another brand of foldable bag that can carry up to 40 lbs. They come in great fabric designs too. Some are for kids. Are mis cosas bags locally made? If they are, I think it’s great to support local manufacturers! I would’ve bought if I had known earlier.

  3. don says:

    And since SM Pasig’s paper bags are smaller than the usual plastic bag, they use more. Tapos the bags easily break so they use two instead of isa lang.

    I love using eco bags…I even use it to bring my laptop para mega-stealth.

  4. Martine says:

    I bring reusable bags. It’s a matter of forming the habit, if you ask me. Charging for plastic bags will help enforce that, I think. In some supermarkets, I’ve noticed they offer special promos for those who bring reusable bags on certain days.

    • ocmominmanila says:

      I have to admit, though, that I only bring reusable bags for shopping. For groceries, I’m ok with plastic bags because I use them instead of buying trash bags.

      • Mommy G says:

        Heehee, me too. I guilty of using plastic bags for dirty diapers to take care of the smell. By the way, I remembered Healthy Options uses biodegradable bags –they feel and look like plastic, but they are biodegradable. Also, some potato chip company (I forgot what) uses biodegradable materials for their packaging too. :)

  5. cai says:

    I think charging an amount for plastic would make people think twice. Kulang ng enforcement dito. When I go to HK, I always bring shopping bags because I don’t want to get charged. Dito ok lang.

  6. mymommyology says:

    I have about 7 or 8 reusable bags, some bought (for a good cause) and some collected over the course of shopping. I always think I can’t shop if I don’t have my bags. That’s the consequence – because I don’t want to bring home plastic anymore (at least until our trash plastic options are depleted). Some stores give discounts when you do bring your reusable bags too!

  7. Rone says:

    The problem with the bags at the grocery is not just the bag itself, it’s the disposal. Where do all the plastic and paper bags end up? In a giant heap of garbage in Payatas most likely. Over paper or plastic I prefer paper simply because it is organic. I bring my own bags with me but you are right it isn’t enough. Not really sustainable. It also bugs me that establishments do it to comply with the law not exactly to be greener.

    I had a discussion with a friend in the fast food industry Apparently the paper and cardboard that is used for food is lined with a material that no longer makes it organic. So not only can it not be recycled, it isn’t biodegradable either. I don’t even want to get started on recycling. This is will be blog post more than a comment if I do.

  8. Louisa says:

    Hiya OC Momma! I agree that charging a fairly high amount for plastic bags in supermarkets is a great disincentive. They do it in Ireland and it really makes you think twice before grabbing a bag at the checkout. I have a gazillion reusable bags but I often forget to take them out with me. Tut tut. I will follow your advice and take one in my bag and a couple in the car, and never again will I be caught out. (Mind you, I always reuse supermarket bags for rubbish, so surely it means I’ll just be buying more binbags?!) Hope you and yours are all well. xxx

  9. You know what I wonder the same thing about this “biodegradable” plastic all the stores are using now too! They might be biodegradable but how long?!?

    I totally agree with you about charging for packaging. It totally works! I think OC mom’s should run Senate. Charging for packaging should be a law! We are cutting down so much trees (look at what’s STILL happening in Iligan and CDO). Sustainable forestry is the way to go for paper products!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *