Paper bags and packaging materials were once the dominant types of packaging used around the world. If you went to the meat market, your meat was wrapped in brown paper and secured with a little piece of tape or string. If you bought flour or sugar, it came in a paper sack. If you went shopping, your groceries were bagged in paper bags.
With the advent of plastic and a growing concern for deforestation, society moved more toward plastic packaging.
Unfortunately, we have discovered that that was a horrible option. Now, non-biodegradable plastic litters our oceans, cities, and rural landscapes in a way we never thought imaginable just fifty years ago. Animals get caught in that plastic garbage and die, plant life is strangled and destroyed by it, and worse, it does not go away. It takes up to 20 years just for a single plastic bag to START degrading. It can be up to 500 years before that bag is fully destroyed by nature.
So, people are looking for solutions, and ironically enough, the answer seems to be in the past.
Paper products are on the rise, and no, we didn’t suddenly stop the impact of deforestation on the environment in order to make that happen. However, a bit of modern ingenuity has taken an age-old packaging method and turned it into something great for the environment.
Check it out.
New Alternatives to Tree-Based Paper
Modern paper bags don’t have to be made from trees. Neither do the other paper products such as straws, boxes, etc.
Modern technological advances have made it possible to make such things out of hemp or even seaweed. This removes the need to chop down much-needed trees, and alternative materials can actually make stronger products. Hemp tends to make the strongest products out of the two main alternatives, but it has a couple of downsides of its own. Seaweed, rather than just making regular old paper, has no downsides.
The Alternatives are Good for the Environment
Not only do the alternatives remove the need for chopping down trees, but they also don’t harm the environment; especially seaweed-based paper.
Seaweed-based paper is made from an invasive form of seaweed that is actively harming coastal regions around the world. This seaweed chokes out wildlife, takes vital nutrients from existing plants in the local ecosystem, and severely damages coral reefs. Even worse, it grows at an astounding rate.
By using that seaweed to make paper, which is just as good as the tree-based paper you’re used to, we can actively manage a very destructive species, get rid of the need to chop down trees for paper and create packaging that doesn’t harm the environment; even if you just chuck it on the ground. That doesn’t mean you should do that, but at least if you get a little lazy, the bag won’t lay around for the next 500 years.
Paper Bags are the Future
With modern paper bags being so great for the environment, with very few drawbacks in terms of performance compared to plastic, you can bet that society will be moving further towards paper bags over the years to come. There’s simply no reason to keep churning out plastic.