One of the best ways to start eliminating plastic is to switch from single-use plastic bags to reusable ones. By using several precious resources and harming many parts of the environment, the impact of these use and throw or ‘single-use items’ are not in fact single but multiple!
This said, it’s becoming more common to see shoppers using their own cloth bag (which comes in the form of bulk bags, mesh produce bags, and totes) when they go shopping. Stores have begun to ask, “Do you need a bag?” and some places like Richmond Gleadell St Farmers Market have a strict policy of no plastic bags or plastic storage within the market. While some countries still use so much packaged food, other countries and companies around the world are looking to reduce their plastic use by taxing or banning plastic bags altogether. According to the Plastic-Free July organisation, by choosing to refuse plastic bags, you can save around 500 plastic bags per year from entering our oceans and landfill!
Choosing the right cloth bag
First and foremost, one of the finest advantages of using reusable shopping bags includes, saving money in different ways! Many stores are beginning to impose an extra charge for plastic bags, so by bringing your own reusable bag, you are saving money each time you go to the grocery store or run errands. Secondly, by using a reusable bag, you are not only reducing the amount of non-renewable resources necessary to produce plastic bags, but you’re also reducing the amount of money your community spends on clean-up costs each year.
Apart from money, these bags also save space in your house. Plastic bags tend to take up a lot of room and often clutter your space. Reusable bags on the other hand allows you to super organised! You can neatly fold them up and they end up taking significantly less space than the storage of plastic bags. And what’s better because they are reusable and serve multi-purposes you don’t need a heap of them!
Another fact is that plastic bags tend to be flimsy which means they can’t handle the load like strong cloth ones that are also durable. So no more spilled groceries, multiple trips, and need for double bagging! And because of this reliability cloth bags are also multipurpose. It’s not just groceries, but you can also use your tote as a bag for work, school, or a trip to the beach! Economical and more sustainable, these carriers’ along with such advantages also give you peace of mind of preventing plastic pollution with every use.
However, the question is are all cloth bags great? And are they all environmentally friendly? When it comes to reusable cloth totes, there are two main categories: natural and synthetic. Due to their biodegradable nature after they’ve fulfilled their use, natural fibers, such as jute, hemp, and cotton, are recognised to be environmentally friendly. Although some may be apprehensive about cotton ones due to their price and the possibility of shrinking and wrinkling after wash but unlike synthetic ones like polyester or nylon these are free of chemicals, breathable (yes your veggies need some air) and less risky of dye migration! And with shrinking or wrinkling you can always line dry the clothes in the dryer after washing in cold water.
Seed and Sprout Co.’ s Organic Bulk Food Bags made of organic cotton muslin or Organic Farmers Market Set made from organic cotton that is GOTS certified (so no toxic bleaches, dyes, and other chemical inputs). While the former is great for storing loose dry goods like nuts or grains in bulk, the latter with its 14 pieces of different sizes knows its way around a Farmers Market carrying everything with comfort and ease without the items bashing into one another!And if you are looking for more transparency and more breathability for your groceries, then check out the Tote Bag Cotton Net – Short Handle from Ever Eco that is made from premium, soft, thick organic, and unbleached cotton. This chic, compact and lightweight net bag is perfect for anyone on the go! Similarly, Reusable Produce Bags from Greensacks are fantastic for shopping fruits and vegetables. Again made from lightweight net fabric that is strong and durable, the bag holds up to 3kg and is machine washable allowing you to use, use, and reuse.
So for this Plastic-Free July carry the challenge on your shoulders stress-free by swapping to reusable and sustainable cloth bags and help your planet from having to carry the burden of plastic baggage on its beautiful land and oceans!!