When and why did people start using paper and plastic bags?
People switched away from using cloth bags when paper bags were invented. Paper bags allowed stores to provide a value added service to customers by giving out free paper bags which was supposed to make shopping easier and more convenient.
Later, when plastic bags were invented, stores switched to those because they were even cheaper than paper.
History of the 1st Paper Bags
Margaret Knight's story is too interesting to leave out:
Margaret Knight invented a device to cut, fold and paste bag bottoms.
Before she could place the patent, a man named Charles Annan tried to steal and patent her idea after seeing her machine. Knight, 33 at the time, filed a patent interference suit against him.
His defense was that because Knight was a woman she could not possibly understand the mechanical complexities of the machine. But, due to her careful notes, diary entries, samples and expertise the court ruled in her favor.
Margaret Knight is considered the most famous 19th-century woman inventor and received 26 patents for such diverse items as a window frame and sash, machinery for cutting shoe soles, and improvements to internal combustion engines.
History of the 1st Plastic Bags:
Plastic and paper have not been around long enough to warrant their destructive impact on the earth. Switching to natural, biodegradable, and renewable sources of bags for carry home and storage must happen sooner or later. Otherwise our single-use habits jeopardize our future.
LEARN MORE: THE ISSUE OF PLASTIC