We are seeing firsthand an excellent example of society behavior change. A paradigm shift of our society changing from single use  paper or plastic bags to reusable bags.

Americans discard approximately 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year, and less than 1 percent of those are recycled.  Plastic bags are recycled into low-quality plastic used to make plastic decking and playground equipment - called down cycling.

In one year alone, the U. S. used 10 billion paper grocery bags at the cost of almost 14 million trees.  A paper bag requires four times more energy to produce than a plastic bag - 2,511 BTUs vs. 594 BTUs.  In the manufacturing process, paper bags generate 70 times more air, and 50 times more water, pollutants than plastic bags.  91 percent more energy is required to recycle a pound of paper than a pound of plastic.

Even though paper bags degrade much faster, modern landfills are lined with clay and plastic, and sealed from water, light, oxygen and other elements to prevent materials from breaking down and leaching into the environment.

Plastic bags do not biodegrade, they photodegrade. They only break down into tiny toxic little bits that pollute the soil and our waterways. In a landfill, plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.

Plastic bags easily replaced paper bags because of deforestation until it became known that these bags were hazardous to the environment.  However, people do not care for the material and size of current (cloth or cheap plastic) shopping bags and will not use them.  The novel and lightweight 4everBagTM system is a proven way for individuals to quickly phase into a better solution. 

In the broadest environmental sense, the question "paper or plastic" no longer has a simple answer.  Leading environmental groups and green-minded retailers and shoppers are turning to a third choice: reusable bags.

4ever Bags is a for profit business campaign of The Environmental Coalition - a 501 (c) 3 organization.

The products are manufactured ethically, under conditions that honor and respect fellow human beings and use environmentally friendly and sustainable materials.

Background

As consumer awareness of the fragility of our planet increases, people are beginning to look at more environmentally beneficial options for all different types of products. Shopping bags were one of the first products to undergo a major overhaul. The original disposable shopping bag was made of paper. Invented in the mid-1800s, the paper bag became a mainstay at grocery stores and other shops as a means for carrying goods. From the time of invention through the 1980s, paper bags were the readily available option for consumers. But, in the late 1970's, the paper bag industry had begun to have some competition from the plastics industry.

The competition came in the form of plastic bags with handles designed to make carrying easier. Plastic bags are also more water resistant, tear resistant and lighter weight in comparison with paper bags. Consumers began to make the switch from paper bags, since they were causing deforestation, to plastic bags. Very soon, the popularity of plastic bags eclipsed paper bags. In response to growing environmental concerns, the plastic bag industry increased the strength of the plastic so as to cut the weight of the plastic used in each bag. However, with hundreds of billions of plastic bags used each year, the amount of plastic and the effect generated is enormous.

Both paper and plastic bags can be reused, but generally end up in a landfill. The reuse of the bags for other things around the house also does not curb the generation of new bags  Even if you take these bags back to the store for reuse, neither type is sturdy enough to withstand many uses  Both paper and plastic bags can also be recycled, but the recycling process for both is fairly energy intensive; more so for the paper bags.

Consumers are currently only recycling approximately 15 percent of the paper bags and only about 2 percent of the plastic bags. Most of these bags end up in landfills where not even the paper bag biodegrades due to the anaerobic, limited oxygen, environment in modern landfills. Plastic bags also have the extra disadvantage of being so lightweight that they easily fly away or flow into waterways. Billions of plastic bags are currently floating in the ocean, wreaking havoc on wildlife and generally degrading the ecosystem.

Due to the environmental impacts of both paper and plastic bags, other options have been sought. The most popular viable option is a bag that is reusable over a long period of time. In general, the attitude regarding cloth bags is they are expensive, bulky, and the material is undesirable. The inexpensive non-woven imitation cloth bags tend not to last long and puncture easily from sharp boxed corners and again are not compact, or travel well.

Everyone can relate to going into a store expecting to purchase only a few items. Later, you find yourself at the checkout stand with full shopping cart and, unfortunately, the reusable bags are at home or in the car. So, you put the store bags in the back of the car and upon arriving at home, find that your purchases are scattered everywhere.  You have to repack, pick up each separate little plastic bag (all the while hoping they do not split open), bunch them together on fingers, and make numerous trips to the kitchen.

4ever Bags  are durable, lightweight, reusable bags which can quickly change our generations old habit of using store supplied shopping bags, and easily retrain consumers to carry compact bags with every store visit.