I read Bagging by Dan Savage at http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2009/06/09/bagging . I went to the link provided to read the statement by Achim Steiner (speaking for the UN) that: "single use plastic bags should be banned everywhere. " Next I googled "plastic in oceans" and was astonished, dismayed, horrified, and heartsick. Mr. Steiner is absolutely correct. The plastic in grocery bags and the like does not really biodegrade: it breaks into tinier and tinier particles after the larger chunks chokes turtles and other marine life. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090315224258.htm
Please note the quote from this site: "The frustrating, yet hopeful part aspect is that humans can easily begin addressing the solution, without major lifestyle changes. It's as simple as reducing packaging and moving towards alternative, biodegradable materials and recycling." On how many environmental efforts could we see results without suffering at all? PLEASE use a cloth bag and PLEASE lobby your politicians to force them to ban plastic and paper bags.