Since the banning of single use plastic bags in all supermarkets and shops, consumers are left to find their own alternative plastic free bags. There are a number of options available to you, all made from different materials. These include jute or hessian, cotton, canvas or calico, polypropylene green bags and even paper bags, but which ones are best for the environment?
The two most important factors in selecting your reusable bags are that they CAN be used for months or preferably years, and that they are eco-friendly. There’s no point in replacing single use plastic bags with something that isn’t environmentally friendly. So let’s take a look at the environmental impact of some of these different options.
Which plastic free bags are best for the environment?
Reusable bags made from jute or hessian are made from vegetable fibres that are naturally biodegradable, but are also durable and long lasting. These materials are considered to be renewable resources and as such, they are carbon banks. They hold onto the carbon until they are broken down in a compost heap at the end of their lifecycle.
Canvas, calico and cotton are extremely durable materials, but are still highly biodegradable and can be added to your compost heap when they are no longer usable. However, don’t forget that cotton farming requires a lot of water during the growing season. If you decide to use plastic free bags made from cotton, ensure that they are long lasting to offset their high water requirements.
As a good example, The Swag has a heavy duty carry bag made from jute and it lasts for years, so it’s a perfect shopping bag for all of your groceries.
Synthetic cary bags, whilst very durable, they do not compost and will eventually end up in landfill.
So, you’ve ditched plastic (yay!) but how do you keep your Fruit & Veggies fresh in the fridge, without plastic?
The Swag is made from three unique layers of 100% biodegradable, unseeded and unbleached cotton, The Swag bag is perfect for keeping your produce fresh for two weeks or more. Simply dampen down The Swag and fill with fresh produce *fruit, veggies and leafy greens) and place into the crisper of the fridge. Your produce can actually breathe and hydrate while in the bag, keeping all their valuable nutrients fresh, instead of suffocating and deteriorating in plastic bags or storage boxes. Saving you so much in food waste (save $$) and without the use of toxic plastic or silicone bags. Plus, mother nature will love you for it.
You can even keep your lunch safe and protected in toxic free reusable lunch bags called the Lunch Swag.
Another option is reusable paper bags, because these can be easily recycled or composted, but as you can imagine, they are not that strong or durable and they won;t keep your produce fresh. In fact, most recyclable paper bags only last for a few shops, but if they are your preferred option, make sure that they are made from recycled materials and don’t contain toxic dyes or print.
Lastly, many shoppers can be seen using green bags made from polypropylene as they are touted as being environmentally friendly. The problem is that polypropylene is a by-product of the oil refining process, which is based on fossil fuels. This means that these green bags aren’t a renewable resource and aren’t as eco-friendly as the other materials mentioned above, but they can be recycled.
Other shopping options for going plastic free
If you forget your plastic free bags when you go grocery shopping you could always leave all your shopping in the trolley and then pack it up when you return to your car. If you have simply left your bags in the car, then you can pack them at this point and then return the trolley to the parking bay – job done! However, if you don’t want to use any shopping bags at all, you can keep a few cardboard boxes in the boot of your car and stack your groceries in these, then return the trolley.
Using plastic free bags is one of the easiest ways you can help the environment and it’s something you can do on a daily basis.