Are Reusable Sandwich Bags Better for the Environment?

Whether or not reusable sandwich bags are better for the environment seems pretty obvious. A single reusable sandwich bag could take the place of hundreds of single use plastic bags, which are currently not widely recycled and therefore end up in landfill or worse, our oceans where they can have huge negative impacts.

Despite efforts in some areas to reduce the use of single use plastics they are still a common factor for many of us in our daily lives. Yet with so many reusable options available it’s now easier than ever to find replacements for many of the items we use day to day including cling film and plastic baggies that are used for food storage, saving leftovers and taking food with you on the go.

However, as is so often the case whether or not reusable sandwich bags are better for the environment is not as simple a question as you might think.

Choosing the Most Environmentally Friendly Options

When looking for alternatives to single use plastic there are a number of factors that need to be considered including the extraction and processing of the materials used, the manufacturing process, the distribution, use of the product and what happens when you eventually have to dispose of it.

For example, silicone is a good option for reusable sandwich bags as it is very durable and non-toxic to both humans and the environment. However, in order to extract silicon from sand it must be heated to incredibly high temperatures which requires a lot of energy. This means that you need to make sure you keep using your silicone items to make sure they are better for the environment.

Likewise cotton sandwich bags with a waterproof plastic lining require energy to produce and use plastic in their production. If they are reused many times they are undoubtedly better for the environment but production, shipping and extraction impacts will all be higher than a single disposable baggie.

The general premise is that there is no point in buying any reusable items if you are only going to use them once. A stainless steel bottle for example needs to be used hundreds of times to be better than single use plastic in all regards and over 50 times to beat it in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

How you care for items also has an effect. Even just washing items greatly increases the amount of energy they require due to the energy needed to heat and pump the water. Choosing items that can be washed in the machine when you are already putting on a cycle is a good way to reduce this impact. Or just wiping down the inside between uses.

Cotton bags are a great option as cotton is biodegradable. But even this doesn’t come without its impacts as there are often chemicals used in cotton production so you need to be aware of where you are buying from and how the cotton was grown.

Overall though, so long as you plan on actually using them, reusable sandwich bags are better for the environment than single use plastic.


Next Up:  How Long Do Reusable Snack Bags Last?

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