Everyone needs to buy things, be it food from a grocery store or the latest video game from a department store, at some point everyone will be forced to carry the new purchase home. It does not matter if you own a car or you walk home from the local market, at some point you will still need to transfer your newly acquired stuff into your house. Since carrying items separately by hand would be both difficult and time-consuming, the modern shopping bag has been around for almost fifty years now to help meet this need. Shopping bag
Despite the length of time the shopping bag has been around, they have not improved that much. In fact most would say they are worse in many ways than they used to be. There are three major types of shopping bags in use today. Two disposable styles of bags are commonly called paper and plastic, both of which were named after the material they are made from. The final type of bag, the reusable bag can be made from a variety of materials but is most commonly made out of some kind of sturdy material like fabric that will stand up to repeated use.
All three bags have both benefits and drawbacks to their use. The paper bag is stronger than most plastic bags and decomposes much faster in the landfill after use than any of the other types of bag. The down-side to paper bags is that they are designed to only really be held from the bottom in most cases which makes carrying more than two or three bags at once very difficult. Being made from paper, the bags also react poorly when exposed to wet conditions. This makes using paper bags to carry anything that might leak or that is damp and frosted a dangerous situation as the bottom could fall out of the bag at any time. Exposure to rainy weather does paper bags no favor either.
Plastic bags have several improvements over their paper counter parts. They come in a large variety of shapes and sizes compared to paper bags and almost all of them have easy to use handles that makes the weight of your purchase the only real limit to how many bags you can carry. Plastic bags are also highly resistant to water and even if they fail to keep the moisture outside of the bag no amount of rain will cause the bag to fall apart. The biggest down-side to plastic bags is that they are plastic, and thus take a very long time to break down in landfills. There also seems to be a growing trend to make plastic bags weaker and thinner in most places lately to save the company a bit of money. While a well made plastic bag can be even stronger than a paper one, well made plastic bags are far and few between in today’s stores.
The final most common type of shopping bag are the reusable bags. They are made from a variety of sturdy materials, everything from cloth to insulating foil but they all follow the same idea of a shopping bag homeshop that can be used over and over again. If everyone started to use reusable shopping bags, it would save several business a lot of money and keep a lot of the former bag types out of the landfill. Unfortunately the reusable bags have their drawbacks like all of the other bags. The cloth and fabric style of reusable bags can get dirty and unsanitary if forced to carry anything that might drip, run or smear into the bag. This makes using such bags for any unpacked groceries a serious problem. There is also the problem that most of the reusable bags for sale are rather small, expensive and sold separately. A decently sized family making a big trip to the grocery store might have five, ten or even twenty bags of food to unload from the car and bring it up to the house. Making all those repeated trips on a single bag would not be fun.
There is also the hassle of having to carry the bag with you before you buy anything that can cause several problems. With reusable bags, you have to know when you are going to stop at the store before hand just so that you can take the bag along to use. There is also the small matter of stores hate to have their shoppers walk around with an empty bag in their hands. Fearing that people will shoplift, you have to leave you bag behind some where, usually on the store’s floor. Personally, I have issues with putting food into a bag that has to sit on a store’s floor.
In the end I have to say use a combination of bags to fit your specific needs. You can use paper or plastic for large purchases and a reusable bag or two for your smaller purchases if you don’t mind being treated like a criminal by the stores you enter. Perhaps when they get some kind of coat check service for your shopping bags at every store it might be useful. Until then, it is just too much hassle to have to hand over your bag and then remind the clerks to give it back when you leave.