Which is More Sustainable – Plastic Bags or Cotton Bags?

  • Oasis Bags
  • November 20, 2023

Have you noticed? Lately, many people have started using cotton tote bags instead of plastic shopping bags. In fact, you might be doing the same too. And, on the surface, this appears to be the best option. After all, plastic is ruining the earth slowly.

But, is this really the best option? To find out all about it, keep on reading till the end.

Are Plastic Bags Not Eco-friendly at All?

Shopping bags come in many materials, and out of these, the ones that you are most used to are crafted out of high-density polyethylene. There have been multiple reports stating that such HDPE bags have a low carbon footprint. Meaning?

It means that making plastic bags is less resource-intensive than cotton bags. These are also less expensive. In addition, when they are reused, their carbon footprint is reduced even more.

Now, you might think “…but is not plastic bags harmful to the environment?”

Well, when you look at how many times the bags can be reused, things can get complicated there, as it really depends on how many times individuals decide to use them again, and how carefully these bags are disposed of once their lifespan is over.

So, even if these bags have a lower carbon footprint until they are generated, this quickly changes when you consider their reusability and disposal.

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Cotton Bags Are Sustainable?

It is true that cotton bags can be easily carried around everywhere. They take no space at all. And the reduction in single-use plastic has been enormous.

So, why are some people against these bags? The problem with cotton is it is largely grown on semi-arid land, so it uses a large amount of water and also needs a lot of pesticides. However, you can resolve this issue by going for organic cotton.

If you are using cotton bags, always choose manufacturers who are known for producing organic items. Also, make sure you wash cotton bags every time you use them.


So, what is the end result? Which is more sustainable?

The answer is pretty simple. It is based on the manufacturer and how long they are used for. Generally, a reusable option is the best choice, as once they are used for a specific amount of time, it neutralizes their burden on the environment.

Keeping away from single-use bags and reusing what you buy is the true secret to making a bag really sustainable. Durability also plays a crucial role here. You need to consider how resistant is the bag to wear and tear and how many times can it be used without breaking. Finally, being able to be disposed of at the end of a long lifespan, minus any pollution is going to add to the sustainability score of your preferred bag.


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