Eco Insights

What makes a bag eco-friendly?

What makes a bag eco-friendly?

In terms of materials, plastic is about as abundant as they come. It's everywhere – one of the main ingredients in the majority of items we encounter every day. We get our groceries packed in plastic bags. We squeeze shampoo, conditioners and lotion out of plastic bottles. Our takeout bags are filled with plastic containers and plastic utensils. 

One of the biggest environmental issues these days is the overuse of plastic bags. Shoppers face this dilemma every day at the checkout. While most ‘reuse’ plastic bags or take with them the ‘green bags’ that can be purchased at grocery stores there are still a large number plastic bags being used in one way or another. Some stores do have paper bags as an alternative, but they aren’t a whole lot better. While paper bags can be recycled, how many people actually do recycle paper? Plastic bags are used more often and, though they are convenient, they generally are not biodegradable and are common litter items.

A lot of plastic products can be recycled, but the majority of them just end up in landfills and go on to pollute our oceans. It’s hard to imagine that our small actions could make a difference at all. But we have to start somewhere.

Reducing your own single-use plastic bag consumption is an environmentally, not to mention financially, responsible move. These days it couldn't be easier to ditch single-use plastic as there are so many brands offering reusable alternatives that are more affordable and far more attractive than plastic bags.

Reuseable eco-friendly bags have become an alternative to single-use plastic bags. The material that’s used in production, the guaranteed durability and the affordability of eco-friendly bags make them products that improve the environment. Each time an eco-friendly bag is used, a single-use plastic bag is kept out of circulation.

When deciding what type of bag to use for shopping items, try to make a statement with an eco-friendly bag. Such bags do not harm the environment and the fact that they can be reused gives them a distinct advantage as well.

A high-quality, environmentally safe bag is manufactured from materials that will not harm the natural environment. Production of these bags does not include the use of harmful chemicals and the bags are biodegradable. There are no negative impacts made on the environment with the production of eco-friendly bags. Reusable bags are a cost-efficient way of preserving the natural environment and its resources. Because these bags come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and customisable designs, they are the perfect substitute for conventional bags and hazardous plastic shopping bags.

With more and more councils, states and countries around the world introducing plastic bag bans, the conversation is finally moving towards reusable bag options.

Yet as with all things, there’s plenty of different options out there and the choice can be overwhelming. Different people have different opinions about what’s best. Whether that’s upcycled or Fair Trade, recycled, organic or vegan, or what the energy footprint is, we all have different priorities in our efforts to live a little lighter.

While there isn’t one ‘best’ option, there are lots of ‘better’ options when it comes to ditching the single-use disposables with something a little more environmentally friendly.

Reusable bags

Bags are tricky when it comes to sustainability – there are a lot of different materials and they all have pros and cons.

There are no ‘perfect’ choices however natural fibres are a popular choice for reusable bags. They are typically hard wearing and can be composted at the end of their useful lives.

Of the commonly used natural fibres, cotton is the most water and chemical intensive crop to grow. Organic cotton has a smaller eco footprint than regular cotton. It’s a lightweight, soft fabric that is durable and strong, is able to be folded up so fits in a handbag. Cotton bags tend to be the most practical.

Jute and hemp are both considered more environmentally friendly than cotton. Jute being one of the strongest fibres, is durable, relatively cheap to buy and crops require little water. On the down side fibres aren’t very resistant to moisture unless chemically treated and can be grown with the use of pesticides.

Hemp is an incredibly strong, durable fibre that is rot resistant and crops can be grown in poor soils with little water. It can be expensive due to resistance from governments to allow crops to be grown domestically, purely due to incorrect associations with marijuana, so most hemp products in the western world are imported.

Washable Paper, a lesser-known natural fabric, is manufactured in Germany under FSC Certification and Oeko-Tex Standard 100. Washable Paper is manufactured from 100% cellulose fibres and guaranteed no harmful substances are used during the entire production process, plus the material contains no Pentachlorophenol, PVC or BPA. Along with this and being dyed with vegetable dyes it makes Washable Paper food safe.

It’s also called vegan leather because it mimics the look and function of animal leather but of course is totally cruelty-free. It looks and feels like leather, thanks to the stretching of the eco-cellulose fibres during the manufacturing process.

Washable Paper is one kind of vegan leather being a plant-based natural leather. Unlike synthetic leather, Washable Paper is natural, which makes it 100% biodegradable and recyclable yet sustainable, lightweight yet durable and eco-friendly. It is also water resistant so can withstand difficult weather conditions while staying flawless. Washable Paper has a high tear resistant and completely machine washable.

Why choose eco-friendly?

  • One of the biggest reasons to switch from traditional plastic bags to reusable and eco-friendly bags is the environmental impact.
  • Each year plastic is responsible for millions of death of birds and other animals.  
  • Another disadvantage of plastic bags is that it takes up to 1000 years to decompose.
  • We currently use 500 billion bags annually, worldwide. That’s 150 plastic bags per person, per year. Needless to say, an eco-friendly bag would significantly reduce this number.
  • Eco-friendly bags are stronger and more durable than conventional plastic bags. They’re also much more comfortable to carry.
  • Eco-friendly bags are also a great way to show your support for the environment.
  • Many reusable bags, if made out of natural materials, are biodegradable. So trade in your plastic for something that is not only environmentally friendly, but also returns to the earth once you’re finished using it.
  • There are many problems associated with excessive plastic bag waste. If just one person transitions to reusable bags instead of plastic, they’ll save 22,000 plastic bags over a lifetime.