Are Jute Bags Eco-Friendly?

What makes jute bags an eco-friendly choice?

Jute bags are a popular choice for reusable jute shopping bags, gift bags and promotional bags as well as having been used for centuries for packing everything from cotton and wool to coffee and cocoa.

Jute, also known as hessian or burlap is a plant fibre that is relatively quick to grow and east to process and it the second most common natural fibre to cotton. Often referred to as the golden fibre due to its colour and financial worth jute is primarily grown in Bangladesh and India where it is a valuable cash crop.

With current trends moving towards more reusable eco-friendly options that are less damaging to the planet you might be interested to know why jute is considered an environmentally friendly option.

Jute is an eco-friendly and sustainable material

Jute has some remarkable properties which contribute to its eco-friendly credentials.

  • Jute grows very quickly without the need for pesticides or fertilizers. In fact, it can be harvested every 4-6 months.
  • Not only does jute not require fertilizers to grow it actually enriches the soil making it ideal for crop rotation.
  • Jute requires a lot of water to grow but is generally grown in areas where rainfall is high and so doesn't require irrigation.
  • Jute is generally harvested and processed by hand providing employment and further reducing the environmental impact when compared to other crops.
  • Not only does jute require very little
  • Jute is a very strong fibre and very durable meaning it can be used many many times making it a better option than paper or plastic.
  • Despite being strong and durable jute is biodegradable and will break down in 1-2 years.
  • Although currently, underutilized jute has a woody core that could be used to help reduce the need for deforestation.

Jute Bags Vs Plastic Bags

If bags have been made from Jute for far longer than they have been made from plastic, and plastic is known to be unsustainable due to the fact it is made from oil which is a non-renewable resource, why are plastic bags so popular?

The simple answer is cost. As plastics were developed they became a cheap packaging material. Or at least they are lower cost in terms of the price you pay upfront, but not necessarily lower cost when you consider the wider impacts and long term environmental effects.

Plastic has many great properties as well as some pretty major disadvantages. Two that are particularly relevant in this instance are the fact that it doesn't biodegrade and the fact that it is made from non-renewable resources.

Jute on the other hand, despite being strong and durable, will biodegrade completely in 1-2 years and is a rapidly growing crop that requires very little intervention to produce high yields.

Next up: How are jute bags made?

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