Cotton tote bags, known to be reliable and reusable, aggravate the vulnerable and delicate state of the environment. Cotton tote bags should not continue to be produced as they hinder environmental growth. Instead, cotton tote bags must be reused and recycled to live their lifespan.
A 2011 study by the UK Environment Agency found that “regular cotton bags need to be reused 131 times before reducing their impact on climate change to the same extent as plastic bags”.
Cotton production is hard on the environment. Cultivation degrades soil quality, although most cotton is planted on established fields. Cotton production also harms the environment through fertilizers and pesticides.
Toxic chemicals that seep into water, such as in lakes, can also cause algae blooms, which can suck all the oxygen out of the water. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, when algal blooms occur, they can “clog the gills of fish and invertebrates, or smother corals and submerged aquatic vegetation.” Blooms can also contaminate drinking water.
Purchasing new tote bags reinforces this environmentally dangerous process and should be considered greenwashing, which is when companies mislead consumers into believing that a product or the practices used to manufacture a product are environmentally friendly or sustainable.
One should be aware of the lasting environmental effects of cotton tote bags, especially with growing algae blooms. Striving to be chic or flaunting cute cotton tote bags only creates a culture of unsustainability.
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a single tote bag winner. Although many bags, including plastic, paper or cotton, are harmful to the environment, multi-use bags are still reliable unlike a single-use bag.
Reusing bags should become a conscious daily practice. Tote bags should be used until absolutely unusable. If you get tired of using yours, give it to a friend or donate it so that the material can be used again for as long as possible.
While it’s easy to say that cotton tote bags should be thrown in the trash, the environmental damage doesn’t outweigh the neglect.
Instead, people should invest their spare time in reusing their tote bags. Innovative ideas include planting tomatoes, using them as gift bags, gift wrap, or makeup storage for easy on the go. The reusethisbag.com website offers several ways to reuse custom bags.
While some may argue that this is a tedious process that would not reverse the current ecological damage, sensible actions accumulate over time, taking the time to check tote bag materials could reveal its environmental impact.
According to National Geographic, non-woven polypropylene is a good alternative to cotton tote bags. They only need to be reused “about eleven times to break even with the impact of conventional plastic”.
Instead of buying tote bags with new materials, people should prioritize buying bags with recycled materials. Nylon bags are another sustainable alternative to cotton bags. They use less material in production than polypropylene bags, making them environmentally friendly.
A reputable supplier of nylon bags is Baggu, which is best known for its reusable shopping bags and heavyweight nylon bags made from 59% recycled materials. These bags are just as stylish as tote bags, come in a variety of sizes, and are super compact. They can also be easily stored in her purse or car.
Reusing cotton tote bags throughout their lifetime while continuing to avoid buying new ones makes an individual care about the environment. Spending money on non-woven polypropylene bags or nylon bags is a better green investment for students.