The "More Than Meets the Eye" feature in today's Washington Post looks at this question in detail. For each material, it examines and compares consumption, production, pollution, recycling, and biodegradability.
As solutions, it suggests
- going without a bag when feasible,
- buying reusable bags and crates, and
- creative ways to reuse paper and plastic bags.
To take waste prevention yet another step further, don't buy any new cloth bags until you have first checked at home. Chances are good that you -- or a friend or relative -- already have a bag (or two or three) that would be a great shopping bag.