Plastic bags are one of the most common culprits for littering and polluting our world. They get stuck in trees, blow around in the wind and end up in our landfills for centuries. But plastic isn't the only option for carrying your groceries home from the store: there are also paper bags and reusable cloth bags that can help reduce your carbon footprint.
As with every product or choice we make, there are pluses and minuses. Non-woven bags are not without their own positives and negatives.
Non-woven polypropylene bags are more likely to tear than cotton canvas, nylon or paper bags. Polypropylene is a petroleum product and can be recycled into other products such as carpeting and clothing. However, there are concerns regarding the use of these materials in non-recycled items due to their inherent low quality and short shelf life that makes them difficult to recycle.
You've decided to bring your shopping bags with you, but which one should you pick? Well, that depends on how many times you think you'll use the bag. The more likely it is that you'll use the bag again, the better for the environment. The key is finding a balance of eco-friendliness and practicality. Paper bags are less environmentally friendly than plastic or non-woven options because paper takes more energy and materials to produce than plastic does; however, they're also biodegradable and create less air pollution than thicker plastic options like shopping totes (the same is true for cotton canvas). However, if you don't want to spend money on new reusable bags every few months because they get dirty so quickly from heavy grocery loads or wet clothing after washing them several times (which happens often when trying out different styles before settling on one), then stick with a thicker option that might have an environmental cost up front but will last longer in your life cycle overall*.
The best bag to choose is the one you'll bring with you when you go shopping. If it's in the trunk of your car or in the closet, it's not really eco-friendly. The more bags you bring with you, the more eco-friendly they are—but if they're just sitting around collecting dust, then they're not doing anything for anyone.
A thicker bag also doesn't hold as much, so you might need to make more of them. A thinner bag is lighter and easier to carry around, but it uses less material per unit. The best solution is to buy the correct size for your needs!
If you're purchasing non-woven bags for food storage, they should be made from either polypropylene or polyester. Polypropylene bags are made with synthetic fibers that won't absorb moisture and cause food spoilage like cotton does; however, they can melt when exposed to direct heat so don't put them in a microwave or dishwasher (or leave them in direct sunlight).
Paper bags are biodegradable, but they can still cause pollution and greenhouse gas emissions when they're made.
When trees are cut down to make paper bags, chemicals that break down the wood are released into the air. These chemicals produce air pollution and greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide).
In addition to creating these pollutants while they're being manufactured, paper bags also take longer to decompose than plastic or other types of non-woven plastic bag alternatives. But unlike plastic shopping bags, which cannot be composted at home or in many cities' curbside composting programs due to their high levels of toxins and contaminants like BPA (bisphenol A), low levels of heavy metals like lead and mercury; BPSP (bisphenol S) which can disrupt hormones; as well as other harmful ingredients such as phthalates used in PVC plastic making processes that may affect development during childhood.*
If you’re concerned about the environment and want to do your part to protect it, then you will be interested to know that paper bags are generally considered more eco-friendly than their plastic counterparts. Paper bags are made from renewable resources such as wood pulp, which is a natural product that can be produced in an environmentally friendly manner.
Plastic bags, on the other hand, require nonrenewable fossil fuels for their production and disposal. The process of producing plastics also creates toxic waste products including dioxins and furans (chemicals linked to cancer) and greenhouse gases like methane (another serious contributor to global warming).
When it comes time for disposal of both types of bags—paper or plastic—they end up in landfills where they take decades before breaking down completely into smaller pieces. While there are some good uses for degraded plastic products after they have been recycled into other materials such as egg cartons or cereal boxes etc., these items aren't used nearly as often as they should be because many people don't realize how valuable they could be!
When all is said and done, there’s no perfect bag. The best thing we can do is make the most eco-friendly choice for our situation—but don't forget that every small action adds up to a big difference.