There has been a new debate on the interwebs that has the sustainable/plastic-free world flipped on its head. Plastic bags are better than canvas/ reusable bags. As someone who’s part of the eco-friendly movement, I had to learn more about this. Is it better to go plastic or are canvas bags the way to go?
According to National Geographic plastic bags compared to other bags has the lowest environmental toll compared their counterparts. They are also sturdy and don’t produce as much toxic waste as cotton or paper bags. If you use plastic bags at least twice then their energy usage balance itself out. They are recyclable, if you give them to the proper recycling plant, not every plant recycles them. If you don’t recycle them then they become non-biodegradable waste and clog up the system. Also, when they do eventually break down hundreds of years later they just get made into smaller and smaller plastics that can wreak havoc on the ecosystem.
But what about Canvas & Paper bags? They have to be better right? Since they do biodegrade and in some cases they both can be recycled and reused way more than plastic. Well, they also cost a lot to produce. Paper bags need paper, so trees and that’s fertilizer and the energy the plants need to turn it into paper. In order for the paper bags to be carbon neutral, you need to use the paper bag at least 43 times and we all know paper bags don’t usually last that long. So what about canvas/ reusable bags? It’s durable, recyclable, and biodegrades. All true but you need to use it 131 times for it to balance out the impact plastic bag production has, and if it’s made with polypropylene a strong form of plastic then it requires thousands of uses.
So what do we use?
It’s all about how you view it. Regardless, you’re going to have some indirect impact on the environment. In my opinion, I’d rather have a cotton bag. They’re durable and even if I don’t get to 131 when it degrades it goes to dirt and fibers, not microplastics that contaminate the planet and are now inside newborn babies. It’s just cotton, however, it is nice to know that when I do use plastic it’s not the end-all to be all. What’s you’re opinion on this discussion let me know in the comments.