Just kidding, I choose the plastic bags because I can carry like 16 of them from the trunk to the kitchen in one trip. Plus, we have a cupboard full of them that we use to pack snacks, pick up dog poop and a number of other functions. Truly, we use them over and over again, except, that is, after we scoop poop.
While I don't know that we'd reuse paper bags any less than we do plastic, I do know that we couldn't stuff near as many into that cupboard. Therefore, most would end up in the recycle bin sooner than do the plastic bags.
I just heard that my governor, for the sake of the environment, signed a bill that would eliminate my plastic bag option. Honestly, my first thought was indeed about trees. I recall a few years ago when all the hullabaloo was about saving trees. Lumberjacks were imperiled by metal objects inserted into trees by environmentalist terrorists. And now the movement has successfully lobbied the California governor into signing a bill that will not only result in the killing of more trees, but in the emitting of more pollutants into the atmosphere, greater energy consumption, greater water consumption (we are experiencing an epic drought here by the way), the bogging down of recyclers and the production of more solid waste. And, to top it off, paper bags don't degrade much faster than do plastics. My, the irony! Here's Jane McGrath on the topic:
Causes pollution: Paper production emits air pollution, specifically 70 percent more pollution than the production of plastic bags [source:Thompson]. According to certain studies, manufacturing paper emits 80 percent more greenhouse gases [source: Lilienfield]. And, consider that making paper uses trees that, instead, could be absorbing carbon dioxide. The paper bag making process also results in 50 times more water pollutants than making plastic bags [source: Thompson].
Consumes energy: Even though petroleum goes into making plastic, it turns out that making a paper bag consumes four times as much energy as making a plastic bag, meaning making paper consumes a good deal of fuel [source:reusablebags.com].
Consumes water: The production of paper bags uses three times the amount of water it takes to make plastic bags [source: Lilienfield].
Inefficient recycling: The process of recycling paper can be inefficient -- often consuming more fuel than it would take to make a new bag [source: Milstein]. In addition, it takes about 91 percent more energy to recycle a pound of paper than a pound of plastic [source: reusablebags.com].
Produces waste: According to some measures, paper bags generate 80 percent more solid waste [source: Lilienfield].
Biodegrading difficulties: Surprisingly, the EPA has stated that in landfills, paper doesn't degrade all that much faster than plastics [source: Lilienfield].
In my humble view, the movement is so anti-market that they can't see the forest for the trees. And of course your politician doesn't give a hoot (owls nest in trees by the way) about the true environmental, or economic, impact of a given piece of legislation. He'll side with the side (the environmental movement or, perhaps, the grocer who'll profit mightily by charging the customer the ten-cent per bag fee, or the producer of the winning product) that feathers his nest...