Are Eco Shopping Bags Worth It?
Plastic bags are considered disposable and they are one of the leading causes of plastic pollution in our oceans and forests. But, when it comes to shopping bags, the reality is we go through one per trip to the grocery store. That means it’s a great place to start reducing the amount of plastic in your life. Reusable shopping bags make a huge difference on the planet and for you!
Reusable shopping bags are a great way for consumers to both help the environment and save money. Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used globally each year. When all of those bags are used just once and then thrown away, that is an unbelievable amount of plastic waste! Once these bags have reached the end of their lives, they break down into small pieces of plastic that are ingested by wild animals, treated as a toy by marine birds and mammals, and could cause soil pollution.
Single-use plastic waste is a pressing issue that many governments around the world are trying to address. One solution to this problem is buying reusable shopping bags which are stronger than traditional plastic shopping bags and can be washed in a washing machine when dirty. Reusable shopping bags are made of several different materials including canvas, leather and nylon. They're also available in various sizes so you'll have one with you when you're buying anything from.
What about paper bags?
Paper bags are often considered more eco-friendly than plastic bags simply because they are made from paper which is biodegradable. However this is a common misconception. Sure, paper bags break down naturally and they can be used for composting. But if you take into consideration other factors like production, paper bags aren’t looking green.
Paper production requires extensive use of energy and resources. Many studies show that it takes about three times as much resources to produce a paper bag than to produce a plastic bag. Chemicals are also being used in making paper bags which adds to its negative impact on our environment. Not to mention, many trees are being cut down to produce paper products. This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing. We need to be planting more trees, not cutting them.
Should you use reusable bags instead of plastic or paper bags?
The short answer is yes. Doing so helps reduce your plastic waste. But one thing to keep in mind is that reusable bags vary widely in terms of materials and each of these materials have their own environmental implications. For instance, cotton is one of the most popular materials used in making reusable bags. It is a natural resource which sounds good but growing cotton requires heavy use of resources like water and extensive use of chemicals like pesticides and insecticides.
There are also bags made from a durable kind of plastic which is called nonwoven polypropylene or PP. While it still takes many years for polypropylene bags to start decomposing, they are far more eco-friendly than regular plastic because they do not release as much toxic chemicals and they are highly recyclable.
Next Up: Benefits of Using Reusable Grocery Bags