Go Green With Reusable Shopping Tote Bags
1.000 years - that is how long it takes for a plastic bag to decompose at a landfill. Even then, the item is not broken down completely. It goes through a process known as photo-degrading, which means that it turns into microplastics, which continue polluting the environment. One easy way to avoid this dark path is to switch to colorful reusable shopping tote bags. Made out of natural fabrics, these are built to safely hold heavy loads and faithfully serve your shopping needs for a long time.
How Reusable Shopping Tote Bags Protect the Environment
Plastic became one of the most widely used materials in the world. This is mainly due to its cheap production cost and longevity. The blend of stabilizers used in creating plastic makes it less biodegradable. Thus one of the advertised advantages becomes its biggest downfall, especially since many products are meant to be used only once (like plastic bags or cosmetic containers).
Protect The Wildlife
Plastic bags often end up intruding upon nature and become a danger to local wildlife. Each year, oceans are invaded by a minimum of 8 million tons of plastic. This makes up 80% of the total debris. These plastic items also pose a direct danger to marine life, as animals ingest them or get caught up in debris, resulting in thousands of animal fatalities every year, including birds, turtles, and other animals. The repercussions do not end there. Plastic ingested by fish also poses food safety risks for humans.
Switching to reusable shopping tote bags can help prevent this vicious cycle from forming. A simple act can prevent the above image from happening. Fabric bags are built to last, and they can carry your groceries for a very long time. Also, once they have served their time and you are ready to part ways, you can rest at ease knowing that they are biodegradable, so they will slowly become one with nature. Still, it is best to prolong the life of a tote as much as possible. Continue reading to find out how you can do this.
A Cleaner Environment
Eliminating, or even reducing plastic production and consumption, will lead to cleaner beaches, parks, forests, villages, cities, a cleaner Earth. Being so light, plastic bags are often taken for a spin by the wind and end up in the most unexpected places. During a simple walk down the street, you will surely spot a considerable amount of plastic litter.
Support the Sustainable Fashion Movement
Recently, a sustainable movement started gaining momentum against the fast fashion industry. Eco-friendly brands focus on using natural materials for clothing items and accessories. Some of the favorite options are cotton, canvas, linen, hemp, and silk. However, they also reuse and recycle fabrics from old clothes rather than letting these clog up landfills. What is more, they focus on energy consumption during the production phase and try to diminish this as much as possible.
While (some) producers play their part, so can you, as a consumer. The fashion industry can be molded by consumer behavior. Nothing gets a point across as well as demand. Therefore, if there is a higher request for eco-friendly products, producers will be competing with an offer.
Protects the Draining Systems
Plastic bags can easily gather in drains, causing these to get clogged. If the situation escalates, it can lead to floods and other major sanitary problems for cities. By choosing reusable shopping tote bags, you will prevent this from happening and protect vulnerable communities from being exposed to the negative effects of plastic.
Reduce Petroleum Consumption
Not many people are aware of the tight connection between the plastic and petrochemical industries. To manufacture a plastic bag, you need a considerable amount of oil. To be more exact, it takes the same quantity of petroleum to make seven plastic bags as to drive one kilometer with a car. Therefore, if we switch our focus to reusable shopping tote bags, it means there will be no need to use the resources that go into plastic bags. The benefits are manifold; not only will carbon emissions decrease, but our petroleum reserves can also last longer if not subjected to abuse.
How To Extend the Lifespan of Reusable Shopping Tote Bags
One of the aspects that makes reusable shopping tote bags the best alternative is that you can use these time and time again. Also, when they have eventually served their time and are sent to the landfill, they are biodegradable. However, to further minimize the negative impact on the environment, try to prolong the totes’ life as much as you can. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to do that.
Wash as Instructed
Keep your reusable shopping tote bag clean both for the sake of its longevity and your health. No matter how careful you are, it is impossible not to stain the fabric eventually. When that happens, clean it as instructed. Always check if the bag came with any washing instructions. Check the tag for guidance. Depending on the type of material, you may wash your tote by hand or by washing machine. You can learn more about How to Clean a Canvas Bag by reading our previous post.
Washing can damage the fabric over time, but there are a few ways to help with this problem. First of all, try to postpone for as long as you can. If the only problem is a spot on the fabric, target only that area during the cleaning process. Spot-clean with gentle cleaning products and a soft moist cloth.
Also, regardless if you wash your tote by hand or throw it in the washing machine, use cold water and gentle cleaning products to protect the fabric and prolong the bag’s service. It is essential to turn the tote inside out for several reasons: it shelters the outside material from chafing against other fabrics in the load and protects the print (if there is one). Always look for gentle cleaning products. These should still efficiently remove stains but are less damaging for the material.
After the wash, it is best to air-dry the reusable shopping tote bags. During the summer season, hang them out in the backyard and let the breeze freshen these up a bit. Exposure to direct sunlight will help the fabric dry faster, but in time it can fade out the colors. If you do leave the totes out in the sun, make sure to hang them turned inside-out.
Also, if you wish to have a crisp tote bag for your next trip to your supermarket, you can iron it once it has fully dried. Do not iron when still wet, as it can lead to shrinkage, especially on cotton. If it has a print, leave the bag turned inside out for this process as well.
One fun way to extend the time between washes is to stock up on a few reusable shopping tote bags and use them on rotation. Also, it helps keep the process more sanitary if you have a tote for specific groceries. Try color-coding your bags to the products. For example, place your meat products in a red bag, dairy in blue, veggies in green, and so on. The color-coding system is completely up to you! This way, you will keep both your groceries and your totes cleaner.
Store Them Away Safely
Leave out only the reusable shopping tote bags you are currently using and safely store away the other ones. There are several ways to go about this. You can fold the totes (if they have a printed area, carefully fold around it to prevent any cracks on the design), store them upright, stack them lying flat, or fill them with paper you no longer need. While the last one is not the most eco-friendly option, it helps conserve the bag's shape. Look for a dark and dry spot to place your totes. If you wish to offer the items extra protection, put these in laundry bags (rather than plastic bags).
Reuse and Recycle
The wonderful thing about a textile shopping tote bag is that you can reuse it. You can prolong its service if you take proper care of it, but still, there will come a time to part from your tote. When that day arrives, consider the alternatives to the landfill. Get creative and try offering the bag a new life! For innovative ideas on how to recycle your reused shopping bag, consult our earlier post on the topic. Here is a quick preview of our top suggestions:
- Style it up
- Use it for dressing storage
- Use it for storing food
- Style up your planters
- Turn your tote into a pillowcase
- Turn it into a child’s kitchen apron
Substituting single-use plastic bags with reusable shopping tote bags is just one of many ways to go green. Try to explore what other behaviors you can implement into your daily routine to help protect the environment.