The best alternatives to the plastic bag

Whilst many aspects of human activity are inherently unsustainable there are a variety of ways that you can reduce the environmental impact of your day to day activities. The plastic bag is one of the biggest sources of pollution and degradation of our ecosystems.

Whilst many studies state that plastic bags are one of the smallest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in terms of bags, this does not take into account biodegradability or the impact on the marine environment. With that in mind, which bag is best if you are looking to lend a helping hand to the wildlife of the planet?

  1. Robust Paper Bags

If you are looking for a product that gives you a double-bagging amount of carrying capacity getting a strong paper bag is a good choice. Paper bags are made of a biodegradable material that has a much lower impact on the environment than classic polythene bags. When buying this variety make sure the bottom of the bag is reinforced to increase the load you can carry.

  • Reusable Canvas Bags

If you have a more substantial budget, then you may want to go for a reusable canvas bag. These come in a range of varieties of sizes meaning you can purchase a few and use them for different occasions like weekly food shops and once in a while clothing shopping sprees. If you are planning on reusing your cotton bags a lot, make sure you clean them regularly to avoid the build-up of harmful bacteria.

  • Recycled Paper Bags

One of the great thing about modern paper bags is that most of them will be out of recycled paper as an industry standard. This helps to keep the carbon intensity of the entire process fairly low. Make sure you look for bags with the recycled icon to be sure you are purchasing a green product. Keep in mind that these products may be slightly less secure so double-bagging may be a good idea when carrying heavier loads.

  • Reusable Cotton Bags

Another environmentally sustainable material that has seen a resurgence in recent years is cotton. Better harvesting processes mean it requires far less water and energy to produce high-quality reusable cotton bags. These bags have very different physical properties than a reusable paper bag meaning they can often carry more awkward loads without the risk of splitting.

Remember that like canvas bags, these cotton bags will also need to be cleaned regularly to ensure they are well sanitised for any food products. We recommend getting some antibacterial wipes to keep these bags clean.

The key is to reuse the bag as many times as possible

Whilst all the bags listed are better for the environment than plastic ones, if you are only going to chuck them away once they have served their purpose they will still be centrifuging heavily to environmental degradation and climate change. The key is to find bags that you will be able to reuse enough times to render them carbon neutral. This will be easy if you find bags from a respected supplier who uses strong materials for their bag.

Shaun Greaves

Blogger of arts and liver of life. Singaporean at heart, but living in the UK. Life is art, appreciate it.
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