Disposable bags are not eco-friendly, so it is sensible to use reusable shopping bags. Reusable shopping bag means you can use them again. Reusable bag options are many. They are heavy, durable and designed to serve for long. However, there is the fabric, paper, and plastic reusable bags but which one is the best eco alternative?
Consumers choose reusable bags with an aim to help the environment but these need to be used consistently. These are often hyped to be recyclable but they are not. To add charm, durability and strength two to three kinds of materials are used in designing the bag.
As each bag is designed from different materials recycling is time-consuming, complicated, and costly process. Bags need to be disassembled for recycling process. Obviously, this reduces their demonstration as an ecofriendly alternative because in the end reusable bags go to landfill.
Fabric reusable bags
Fabrics of different kind is used to prepare reusable bags. Each one has its pros and cons.
Cotton, canvas, and calico
Natural fibers are used to prepare cotton and canvas reusable bags. Calico material made from cotton fiber is unbleached and not processed fully. Considering reusable bags on lifecycle features like heavy and strong. They need more resources, so have huge environmental effect regardless of the materials they are designed from.
Canvas, cotton and calico bags needs to match conventional plastic shopping bags environmental efficiency needs to be reused 132 times. Cotton is renewable material but its production is resource intensive because of heavy usage of fertilizers, water, pesticides, and energy needed to cultivate and process cotton.
- Biodegradable and renewable
- Soft, strong and durable
- Machine washed
- Heavy environmental footprint
- Heavy and bulky
- Not moisture-resistant
- Needs regular washing
Hemp is a natural fiber stronger than cotton. It is applied in industrial and textile sector.
- Very strong, rot-resistant, and durable
- Needs less water and grows in poor soil
- Blended with materials like recycled PET or cotton
- Hemp is grainy, so needs to be refined
- Refined hemp makes use of more water for growing
- Can be expensive
- Bags need regular washing
- Not recyclable
Jute is plant fiber, which can be spun into strong coarse threads. Cultivated in regions receiving high rainfall, so no need for irrigation or pesticides.
- Biodegradable, renewable, durable
- Relatively cheap
- Can be blended with fabrics like polypropylene
- Hard to find
- Grainy texture and cannot resist moisture
- Printing is not possible
Paper reusable bags
- Biodegradable, renewable, and recyclable
- As litter the are less obstinate
- Good for branding [color prints are possible]
- Tears fast or as soon as it gets wet
- In comparison to light weight plastic bags these are 6 to 9 times heavier
- Weight adds to logistic cost and green gas emission
- Great volume adds inventory space cost
Plastic reusable bags
- Strong, durable, and easy to clean [just wipe]
- Semi rigid insert placed at the bottom provides stability to the bag
- Wide printing and material color options
- Recyclable but difficult process
- Made from non-renewable resource
- Regular manual washing is needed
You get to opt from high density polyethylene [HDPE#2] and low-density bags [LDPE#4]. Both these bags are short life bags but its reuse rate is 40-60%. Both kinds are used as bin liners, manage pet waste, carry groceries, as lunch bags, for travel, etc.
Visit Custom Earth website to get an idea of the good work they do like manufacturing reusable custom bags from recycled materials.