This is a story that will delight many people in plastics. The New York Times has a story about how reusable canvas tote bags really aren’t that sustainable.
“An organic cotton bag has to be used 20,000 times to offset its overall impact on production, according to a 2018 study by the Danish Ministry of the Environment and Food. That’s 54 years of daily use – for just one bag,” said Grace Koch writes.
Cotton, she continues, uses a lot of water in agriculture, which diminishes its ability to maintain superior sustainability. The bags cannot be composted in urban centers, and if they are colored or screen printed they cannot be recycled without cutting out time-consuming parts of the bag with logos and then reusing the cloth.
Cook notes that the big trend towards reusable cotton tote bags started with a British designer, Anya Hindmarch, who started selling the I’m Not a Plastic Bag with an environmental group in 2007.
But that doesn’t mean environmentalists will suddenly embrace plastic bags.
When we weigh the two materials against each other, “we end up with an environmental what-about-thinking that leaves consumers with the idea that there is no solution,” said Melanie Dupuis, professor of environmental studies and sciences at Pace University , opposite Cook.
For what it’s worth, however, Hindmarch is making a new reusable bag made from recycled plastic called the “I Am a Plastic Bag”.