Single-use plastic bag or reusable bag?
Each year, an estimated 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That’s over 1 million per minute. On average only 1 plastic bag in every 200 is recycled.
A person uses a plastic carrier bag on average for only 12 minutes. However it takes hundreds of years to decompose!
So, ready? Steady… Fight!
Problem: Reusable or Plastic?
It all comes down to how many times you use them. The more you reuse them, the more you reduce their impact.
Reusable bags can have a bigger footprint during production (especially cotton bags), but this is compensated if reused many times.
The minimum number of times each bag must be reused in order to be more environmentally friendly than a single use plastic bag varies:
- Composite materials: 870 times
- Cotton tote bag: 173 times
- Paper: 43 times
- Fold-up non-woven polypropylene: 14 times
- Recycled plastic bag: 2 times or less
Let’s talk about how many times you actually need to remember to bring your grocery bags along before you make a positive environmental impact.
The best solution for the issues above is reusable shopping totes or bags. Consumers can use them again & again, but which reusable bags are the best?
The two most common types of materials are non-woven polypropylene (PP) and cotton. PP is a more durable form of plastic. But, are PP bags better than plastic bags? The answer is how faithfully you “reuse” them. A non-woven PP costs less than cotton and needs only 11 times to be reused to break even with traditional plastic, according to a U.K. study.
Why? Because most consumers are apparently more likely to forget their reusable bags, and end up using plastics anyway, which negates the point in buying reusable bags in the first place.
- Washable & Reusable;
- 100% customizable;
- A wide range of materials & extra design features are available;
- Has a cotton blend construction, and cotton farming costs less than mining and gathering oils that are used in plastic;
- Costs less to gather all the materials;
- Can be retired for other purposes once they’re tattered and no longer viable for groceries;
- Has a very long lifespan;
- Cotton is also biodegradable, so even if you don’t get as many uses as you’d like out of it, at least it won’t hang around for a millennium.
- Production is worth more energy. However, in an ideal world, we would eventually require far less reusable bags to be created than their plastic counterparts.
- Costs a lot of fuel to produce & distribute these bags -- causes more environmental damages.
- Production is more environmentally friendly;
- More profitable when ordering in bulk;
- Reduces food safety risks;
- Automatic & less time-consuming production;
- Takes up to 1000 years to decompose;
- Bleeds polypropylene and BPAs into the soil, which in turn ruins the soil, and then washes into streams, rivers, and other bodies of water that lead to the ocean. It all comes back to the ocean;
- The amount of energy that it takes to make 12 bags is the equivalent of powering a vehicle for a mile, so another 60 plastic bags worth of energy are wasted just to move them from place to place;
- Synthetic polymers are laboratory-made and cannot be found in nature.
So, as you can see- REUSABLE BAG WINS. Despite it also has some nuances, the advantages still overwhelm. Our choice is clear! What about you?
- Use reusable bags frequently and for a long period of time to be worthwhile.
- Take care of your reusable bag properly to prolong its lifespan.
- Consider the material and how much you plan on reusing your bag If you decide to use a reusable bag.