What's the most sustainable option for grocery shoppers: paper, plastic or reusable totes? The answer, in a Q&A interview from The Oregonian newspaper, might surprise you. The expert being interviewed is David Tyler, cited as a "University of Oregon chemistry professor, plastics expert and public speaker." The column, headlined "Urban green myths," asks Tyler questions about plastics and sustainability. It's a short story, so check out the link for the full report. The item that drew my attention was this question from freelance reporter Joe Hansen: "So when you go to the grocery store do you get a plastic bag, a paper bag or do you use a cotton tote bag?" Tyler's reply: "The most sustainable option is a reusable tote bag made out of recycled plastic." That's where the "myth" part comes in. Communities around the world are banning and taxing plastic bags right now and encouraging citizens to buy reusable cotton bags instead. But cotton, despite being a renewable material, has issues. "Cotton requires a huge amount of water to grow. So in terms of water use, cotton is really low on the list. It's bad for the environment in that sense. Also something like 25 percent of all pesticides used in this country are used on cotton," Tyler said. Tyler is giving a talk at 7 p.m. tonight (Nov. 26) in Hillsboro titled "Paper, Plastic or Cotton Tote Bag? Life Cycle Assessments of Everyday Items." If you happen to be in the area, check it out.
Sustainability expert likes plastic, but there's a catch
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