Life Cycle of a Paper Bag
Annabelle Kim, 5th period AP Environmental Science
How is it made?
The raw materials needed are debarked logs, recycled material, and chemicals such as sulfur. The most common types of trees used for the creation of paper consists of aspen, eucalyptus, birch, pine, and spruce. Much of the trees cut down are cut down illegally in areas such as Russia, the Baltic States, and Indonesia.
Why is it made?
A paper bag is used for about 24 hours. It is used to hold food or other objects for easier carriage.
What happens after it is used?
Generally, paper bags are not harmful to the environment because many of them, particularly lunch bags, are biodegradable. A biodegradable bag takes about one month to degrade. However, there are different kinds of paper bags such as those used in grocery stores that are created through a process called Kraft pulping which results in only 50% of the tree used. The remainder of the tree material is then created into sludge, burned, and spread on land or land fills, a harmful action.
What about another usage?
How are the three R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) impacting Earth?
The second 'R' of this acronym refers to reusing the materials we have created from these raw materials. Reusing the materials we have already created allows us to not buy new materials and add to an increase in the amount of raw materials extracted from Earth. Reusing materials allows for land fills to fill up less quickly as well as preserve raw materials. Less land fill allows for more space for biodiversity to thrive in as well as protect organisms in the ecosystem from any harmful chemicals that could leak from these land fills.
The third 'R' of this acronym refers to recycling our materials in order to create new usable materials for our everyday use. This results in no addition to land fills as well as no extraction of raw materials from the earth. Reduction of land fills as well as preservation of raw materials allows for the greatest amount of protection of organism habitat, reduction of potentially harmful chemicals, and less area for usage as land fills. These protect the biodiversity of animals by reducing any potential harmful poisons as well as keep the balance of nature.