With so many reusable shopping bags available, do you ever wonder which reusable shopping tote is best?
When the shift started from plastic to reusable, I collected tons of totes. I didn't have the penny mentality of “take a bag, leave a bag”. Some were colorful, many were very natural looking but all of them were made out of different material. You know what I'm talking about. Reusable shopping totes have been around along time, but which one is the best reusable shopping tote? Many companies give them away, adorned with their logo, info, pictures etc. in the effort to “spread the news” of their business. Shopping totes started to feel like the new business card.
IS IT HOARDING? --
A few years ago I stopped accepting free totes. I only wanted ones that I would use and that worked well for my shopping habits. Two thermal bags is a must. I my quest for keeping the “right” bags, I began to wonder about the material. So many processes and materials, which one was the best environmentally. Yes, reusing is good; but the fabrics and manufacturing processes are also important.
Below is the information I found that was important to know in trying to answer my own question,
“What is the best reusable shopping tote”?
I also share with you my personal “Pros”, “Cons” and “My Best Pick” for each type bag. Please feel free to share you knowledge of this subject in the comments below. There are so many bags, and such little time! LOL
PLASTIC GOOD, COTTON BAD --
There was an article a few years back that led folks to think that disposable plastic bags are more eco-friendly than reusable cotton totes. [1 ] The findings suggest that, in order to balance out the tiny impact of each lightweight plastic bag, consumers would have to use the same cotton bag every working day for a year.
According to the report, It found that an HDPE plastic bag would have a baseline global warming potential of 1.57 kg Co2 equivalent, falling to 1.4 kg Co2e if re-used once, the same as a paper bag used four times (1.38 kg Co2e).
A cotton bag would have to be re-used 171 times to emit a similar level, 1.57 kg Co2e.
A canvas tote needs to be used 171 times to have the same environmental greenhouse effect as a single-use plastic bag.
THE KEY -- The key to this report is that it only dealt only with greenhouse gases, ignoring litter and other environmental impacts. It is these impacts that are behind the growing number of plastic bag bans in cities across the US and the world. By focusing only on greenhouse gas emissions this report may lead readers to believe that plastic bags are actually better.2
Fabric Options --
Polypropylene: At 103 grams, the manufacturing of the polypropylene material for each bag creates 138 grams of greenhouse gas emissions, which compares to the manufacture of 11 disposable plastic shopping bags.
PRO: It’s a fabric made from plastic that feels like canvas. Ideal bag material as it is clean, durable, affordable, machine washable, and recyclable.
CON: Cheap polypropylene can contain lead or toxins that compromise your bag.
MY BEST POLYPROPYLENE CHOICE: Bulletinbag, made in the USA.
Polyester: Polyester totes are tiny, portable shopping bags. Polyester is a very thin and durable fabric.
PRO: Easy to shash one in your purse or clip to your belt.
CON: Can be blended with other fabrics taking it hundreds of years to decompose.
MY BEST POLYESTER CHOICE: ChicoBag is an amazing Certified B Corp with a mission to eliminate the need for disposable plastic shopping bags.
Cotton: I'm a big fan of cotton so I tend to gravitate towards canvas bags. Organic cotton is best because there is no use of chemicals or pesticides. The environmental impact is based on the weight of cotton use.
PRO: cotton material is durable and long lasting.
PRO #2: If handy on a sewing machine, you can make your own!
CON: Uses a significant about of water to grow cotton.
MY BEST COTTON PICK: Any tote up-cycled from old t shirts or clothing.
"Fast Fashion" is a new term. According to Wikipedia: Fast fashion is a contemporary term used by fashion retailers to express that designs move from catwalk quickly to capture current fashion trends. Fast fashion clothing collections are based on the most recent fashion trends presented at Fashion Week in both the spring and the autumn of every year.
The amount of fabric discards are piling up. Much like disposable plastic items never go anywhere, neither does fabric. For an interesting look at the problem, watch The True Cost movie.
MY BEST OVERALL PICK: Any lightweight cotton tote for a lower environmental impact.
What is the best reusable tote?-
MY THOUGHTS -- I need to decide what I expect from the bag, what I am using it for and I bet a couple more questions will come to be as I do research. I will write a follow-up article to this one once I have solved this problem for myself. Stay tuned….
What is your favorite reusable tote?
Share with me in the comments below. You probably have a great company you can recommend me! :)