We all know that we should do our part in reducing the use of single-use bags. The best and probably the only practical way to achieve that is by carrying reusable bags to grocery stores. Some grocery stores and retail chains have even taken the first step. Declaring their retail zones as “plastic-free,” they have moved away from plastic bags and are now offering eco-friendly cotton printed bags to their customers.

As a consumer, you need to do your part. The first step is to buy reusable bags that you can conveniently carry around to tackle any sudden shopping situation. However, when it comes to picking a bag there are more than a few options available. Some are organic while others are made from artificial materials. In this post, we take a look at two common reusable bag types based on the material they are made from.

Reusable Cotton Bags: There are several different types of cotton, right from recycled cotton to organic. Recycled cotton bags are typically made from cotton fibers that end up in dumping grounds. They are cleaned and treated to create a completely new cotton product. Being a natural material, cotton is also highly biodegradable. Cotton is also widely available. As far as human industrial capabilities are concerned, infrastructure to mass produce cotton bags to replace plastic bags is already in place.

Advantages

It’s a Renewable Resource: We can always produce more cotton to meet the demand without the worry permanently depleting a natural resource.

Durable: Cotton bags, especially canvas is extremely durable. This means you can easily carry heavy loads.

Easy to Wash: Cotton bags can be washed and dried like cotton garments. They are machine-washable.

Biodegradable: Made from natural fibers, cotton bags are highly biodegradable.

Disadvantages

Not Moisture Resistant: Carrying chilled items can cause cotton bags to get wet from condensation. A sudden shower can also wet the items inside a cotton bag.

Cultivation Requires a Lot of Water: Cotton production is a thirsty process. Considering there is a limited supply of fresh water, this a major environmental hurdle.

Cultivation Requires Pesticides: Cultivation of cotton requires a lot of pesticides. Organic cotton products are often rare and expensive.

Reusable Hemp Bags: Hemp products often get a lot of media attention because they are derived from cannabis plants. The advantage of cultivating hemp is that it requires almost no pesticides and demands very little water. However, not everything is sunshine and rainbows. The legalization of cannabis-derived products is still a global political issue. We also don’t have nearly the number of hemp manufacturing plants to meet the global demand.

Advantages

Stronger Than Cotton: Hemp fiber is naturally stronger than cotton fiber, which makes the bags more durable.

Can Be Grown in Arid Climatic Zones: The cultivation process requires little water and hemp plants can be grown in poor-quality soil.

They Are Machine-Washable: Much like cotton, bags made from hemp are machine washable.

Disadvantage

They Are Significantly More Expensive: Considering only a few countries have legalized the manufacturing of hemp products, these bags often need to be imported. This means they are way more expensive than cotton.