Things to think about when choosing a reusable shopping bag
There are a few things to think about when choosing a reusable shopping bag, The obvious is the size of the bag and the volume you are going to put into it at each shopping visit, but there is much more to consider. With the Queensland State Government putting a ban on single use shopping bags, and other State Governments watching to see if this helps fix the problem, we will all need to move to reusable bags. This is going to become reality very soon, which is great for the environment right, well maybe. Below are the bullet points to think about.
- Where am I going to use these bags, at the local grocery shop, the markets or for going out doing a shop around the shopping center.
- How big of a bag do I need?
- Do I need a few different size bags?
- How many will I need for my average shopping trip?
- What is the bag made of?
- Once it gets dirty, how am I going to clean it, or do I throw it away and purchase another bag?
- Is my bag actually eco friendly – what chemicals were used to make the bag, and what happens to the bag once I have finished with it and discard it?
- How much does it cost and is it good value for money?
- Do the handles, extra pockets, and any closures suit my needs?
I am sure that there are even more things that some people will consider, but the above are the basics. The main reason we are moving from single use plastic bags is to reduce the environment impact. It will not be hard and won’t even be expensive if you purchase the right bags at the start.
A lot of people will just buy the bags that are available at the checkout, this may not be the best option. Most major retailers are going to do what is cheapest or what can make the most money for them. So if you want to do the right thing put some thought into the bags you are getting. If you are going to use your bag at your local market to pick up the weekly shop of fresh fruit and veggies then a basic light weight market bag made of calico could be suitable.
If you are doing a weekly supermarket shop then the same type of bag may be suitable, but you are going to need a few more of these. I’m not convinced that the poly woven reusable bags are a great choice – what happens to them when they end up in landfill? A shopper tote bag with extra pockets allow you to carry items such as your wallet and phone separate from your purchases. There is no right or wrong answers to the choices you make, but some choices will be more economical over time and are better for our environment.
How big and how many will I need? Obviously this depend on the size of your family. The sizing is easy, most reusable bags are around the 38cm x 38cm. There may be slight variations in size. This size provides adequate content without excessive weight. Sometimes a gusset in the bag will assist in managing more bulky items.
Your choice of bag is important and should be considered with responsible manufacturing practices and for the impact to the environment
- Reusable Shopping Bag Natural Fiber: Some of these materials are Jute, Bamboo and Hemp. Natural Fiber bags are often more expensive than the other bag options, but if you want to do the best by the environment they are most likely the bags you will choose. These natural fibers tend to grow like weeds or even be considered a weed in their natural environment,they usually have minimal use of harsh chemicals and pesticides in the farming or collection stage, and use less water to grow than cotton. Natural Fiber bags are often a blend of materials such as cotton or even non-woven polypropylene, so check the make up of the bag, not just think great because you are buying a Hemp Bag that upon checking is 10% Hemp and 90% polypropylene. A 100% Natural Fiber bag has a ‘grainy’ feel to them. A Natural Fiber Cotton Blend is usually the best quality, with a great look and feel. Not all Natural Fibers are as good of our environment and eco system, if you are thinking of buying Bamboo do not just take the marketing and PR as the truth, check out online about the impacts and sustainability and negative effects on Bamboo farming and collection. Most Natural Fiber bags are washed just like you wash your clothes. Organic and break down over time once discarded. With a little research this can be a great option.
- Reusable Shopping Bag Cotton: Cotton is Organic. IT can be washed in the washing machine just like you clothes. Available in a range of material weights, and finishes. If you want to do the correct thing by the planet check that the bags are manufactured to Fair Trade Standards. some of the very cheap Calico bags may not be. Want to do the best you can by the environment, Organic cotton is grown sustainable, without harmful chemicals, the down side is it is more expensive. A Standard Cotton Bag, is light weight and easy to carry and store, while Cotton Canvas is thicker, and available in a firm finish or a soft feel. Cotton Bags will break down once discarded, recycling is usually available trough non local authorities.
- Reusable Shopping Bag Non-woven Poly: This is the majority of the inexpensive bags you will see at the major retailers. These bags are a form of plastic made to look and feel like woven cloth. In my opinion these bags are popular because are economical. The bag is strong and can lay flat for easy storage, you may even have a non-woven bag that folds into little pouches. They are often colorful and have a cool print on them or a Store Logo. These bags have to be hand washed with soapy water. When you discard your Non-woven polypropylene bag at the end of its life some local councils will not accept them for recycling and they go to land fill, just like a normal plastic bag they take a long time to break down, the bags are no organic. Check with your local authority to find out if they accept these bags as recyclable . with the Non-woven Poly Bags some will be manufactured form a blend of Recycle plastic and raw plastic, some will be manufactured form raw plastic, the best way to find out is to ask the shop you are purchasing them from if they use recycle materials in their production.
- Reusable Shopping Bag Laminated Plastic Shopping Bags: Laminated reusable bag are easy care, wipe them down and they are clean and ready to go.The laminated bags are made from woven polypropylene that is then laminated (layered), or are laminated recycled PET. The two different types of bags look the same and have the same characteristics except on the inside of the bag. Some of these bags will have a gloss finish and some may have a matte material like finish. Just like the Non-woven Poly Bags the amount of recycle material can vary, some local authorities may or may not accept them for recycling. The Laminated Plastic Bag is also not organic and can take a long time to break down if at all.
- Reusable Shopping Bag Poly/Rip-stop & Recycled PET Bags: These reusable bag are less common, the Rip-stop bags are made from a type of Polyester, and the Recycle PET bags are made from recycled plastic bottles, while both of these are considered to be a more environmentally friendly option they are still made from a type of based plastic. The benefits are a a light weight bag that is reusable, depending on the quality of the material will depend on the durability of these bags. Non organic, so the material will take a long time to break down, if at all.
You will find that a AS Colour Cotton Canvas reusable shopping bag is a more expensive option than a non-woven reusable shopping bag, but the life span of the Cotton Canvas bag is many many times that of the non-woven bag, when taking this into consideration it can actually be the cheaper option over time. Pockets, compartments and closures are something that is up to personnel taste, on average you might have one special bag that has extra compartments in it and then store your normal bags in that bag to use once you arrive at the checkout. Handle length is also a personnel thing, but most people prefer the longer handles, there is no right r wrong just what you like.
The last thing is do you want to have an individual look , we custom print your bags with your own picture drawn by your children, a Picture that means something to you like a photo from your holiday. You do not need to be a part of the crowd and use the bags that you buy from the supermarkets, you will find a range of Eco Friendly bags ready to put your design onto in our Lifestyle and Home-ware goods, check them out.
We have supplied this information to help you make an informed choice, these are our opinions and not everyone will agree with us, just do your own research and make an informed choice.