Bag Bans Spur Eco-Friendly Shopping Bag Industry

Everybody knows plastic shopping bags and those plastic six pack rings are bad news when it comes to wildlife and the environment. Originally the answer to brown paper grocery bags of old, the flimsy, single-use plastic bag took off like a rocket. Yes, they may have saved quite a few trees from dying along the way, but the problem is nobody recycles them. When you dig beyond the surface, the truth is there are very few positives in connection to single-use plastic bags as compared to all the negatives. Even with convenience as a main selling point they just don't stack up. They don't break down in landfills or oceans, they aren't easily recycled (even if anybody were trying to) and their production adds to oil demands. In the United States alone Americans go through an estimated 380 billion plastic bags a year

Banning the Bag

Due to all of this, states like Hawaii, California and even North Carolina have become proactive and attempted to or have successfully implemented bag bans for single-use shopping bags. These bans include various levels of inclusion or participation. In California, for instance, the ban is in effect predominantly around San Francisco and surrounding areas like San Jose. And these bag bans are not restricted to the United States alone. Cities in at least a half a dozen countries have instituted some form of single-use plastic shopping bag ban. Interestingly enough, several of these countries aren't exactly on the tree hugger list, either. If they can and have done it, more are sure to follow.

Reusable Jute Shopping BagReusable Jute Shopping Bag

Eco-Friendly Bags

With everything that's been put into motion and a growing interest in going green the growth of the eco-friendly bag industry has been spurred. Many box stores and grocery chains have begun selling their own reusable, eco-friendly alternatives for carrying purchases home with their logo on them. This is not only a great way to generate extra revenue but it's a wonderful branding or advertising opportunity. These green bags are extremely inexpensive and you're encouraged to bring them back with you to shop with and check out and begin the cycle again. When you consider the average American family brought home roughly 1,500 single-use plastic bags back in 2008 and how that number has undoubtedly increased as our population continues to expand, you can see what a profound impact switching to reusable bags could make.

Taking a Closer Look

While switching to reusable bags is a step in the right direction, it's important to take a closer look at the bags you're being encouraged to buy as so-called eco-friendly. Many of them are made from plastics, albeit recycled plastics, but plastics nonetheless. If shoppers don't reuse them and make a habit out of their use, we're really no better off than we were before. Consistency is key here, and it's going to take a certain amount of retraining for our disposable society to catch on. According to Nick Sterling, research director at Natural Capitalism Solutions, a nonprofit focused on corporate sustainability issues, if each bag were used at least once a week, four or five reusable bags could potentially replace 520 single-use plastic bags a year. Additionally, some bags from China, where many of these reusable bags are produced, purportedly contain lead. If you're going to invest in a few, try and verify the authenticity of their eco status before buying.

 

Earthwise Reusable Shopping BagEarthwise Reusable Shopping Bag

 

Best Bags

A number of department stores and upper-end retailers have very successfully begun using reusable bags emblazoned with cheeky pictures and funny images. Some of the best reusable bags to date have been seen in Europe and Asia. Here in the U.S. the choices for anything beyond generic is still pretty limited, but a company by the name of Earthwise is starting to make some colorful bags and Etsy is bound to be overflowing with them. This is where you're likely to find your best selection for quirky and fun. Dedicated sites like EcoBags has a pretty wide selection, but they're still not on par with some of their European counterparts. They do, on the other hand, offer custom printing so you can have your own snarky comments and humorous depictions splashed across the fronts of them. Who knows, much like the happy face of the '70s or any number of silly fads from the past, you might just be the next social trendsetter raking in the big bucks once you unleash your customized reusable bag on the world. In the mean time, try and curb your plastic bag consumption.

Some of the sites we link to are affiliates. We may earn a small commission if you use our links.