The answer to what's the greenest replacement for a single-use plastic bag isn't straightforward, but the advice boils down to this: Reuse whatever bags you have at home, as many times as you can.
The battle against the single-use plastic bag may not be won but it’s definitely under way.
Restrictions on their use are in place in almost a dozen US states and in many other countries around the world. And in many cases, these efforts have been successful at eliminating new sales of thin, wispy plastic bags that float up into trees, clog waterways, leech microplastics into soil and water and harm marine life. (Of course, these restrictions don’t address the plastic bags already out there that will take centuries to decompose.)
But this environmental success story of sorts masks another problem.
Many of us are drowning in reusable bags — cloth totes or thicker, more durable plastic bags — that retailers sell cheaply or give away to customers as an ostensibly greener alternative to single-use plastic. (I have 15 cotton totes and 12 heavy-duty plastic bags stashed in a kitchen drawer, only a few of which see the light of day.)
Campaigners say these bag hoards are creating fresh environmental problems, with reusable bags having a much higher carbon footprint than thin plastic bags. According to one eye-popping estimate, a cotton bag should be used at least 7,100 times to make it a truly environmentally friendly alternative to a conventional plastic bag.
The answer to what’s the greenest replacement for a single-use plastic bag isn’t straightforward, but the advice boils down to this: Reuse whatever bags you have at home, as many times as you can.
And here are some things to keep in mind as you hit the mall or grocery store.
Consequences of plastic bags
Well-intentioned bans and limits on single-use plastics are in some cases having unintended consequences.
This suggests this model, whereby a heavier bag is offered to encourage reuse, is simply not working.
“If companies are just giving us thicker plastic bags, I would say then the policy is an overall failure,” said Judith Enck, a former Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator and now president of Beyond Plastics, a US nonprofit organization working to end pollution caused by single-use plastic products.Read more here: https://edition.cnn.com/2023/03/13/world/reusable-grocery-bags-cotton-plastic-scn/