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Are Tote Bags Really Good for the Environment?

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posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 06:39 PM
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Are Tote Bags Really Good for the Environment? Apparently they are not.


For at least a few decades, Americans have been drilled in the superiority of tote bags. Reusable bags are good, we’re told, because they’re friendly for the environment. Disposable bags, on the other hand, are dangerous. Municipalities across the country have moved to restrict the consumption of plastic shopping bags to avoid waste. Many businesses have stopped offering plastic sacks, or provide them for a modest but punitive price. Bag-recycling programs have been introduced nationwide.

But canvas bags might actually be worse for the environment than the plastic ones they are meant to replace. In 2008, the UK Environment Agency (UKEA) published a study of resource expenditures for various bags: paper, plastic, canvas, and recycled-polypropylene tote bags. Surprisingly, the authors found that in typical patterns of use and disposal, consumers seeking to minimize pollution and carbon emissions should use plastic grocery bags and then reuse those bags at least once—as trash-can liners or for other secondary tasks. Conventional plastic bags made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE, the plastic sacks found at grocery stores) had the smallest per-use environmental impact of all those tested. Cotton tote bags, by contrast, exhibited the highest and most severe global-warming potential by far since they require more resources to produce and distribute.


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So for me this is a perfect example of the danger behind global climate change hysteria.

Negating for a moment the argument of whether or not Anthropomorphic Global Climate Change is real and just assuming that it is real; the hysteria behind it is causing us to make ill informed and counterprouctive decisions.




posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 06:46 PM
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a reply to: DanDanDat

I agree, but doesn't take into account the danger of plastic to marine life.



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 07:04 PM
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a reply to: OccamsRazor04

Well, when you consider cotton is the most heavily sprayed crop on earth, all the pesticides, herbacides, fertilizers etc get into the ground water, seep into the rivers and oceans, driving the development of "deadzones" via algae blooms etc...

I would be interested in viewing any available metrics, but Id imagine pesticide run off from cotton and other conventional big ag, has a higher detriment to life on both land and sea.



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 07:16 PM
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The plastic bags they use at Kroger are actually biodegradeable. Not that I believe in the global warming scam, but the reality long as I don’t litter I am happy.



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 07:19 PM
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Real men only buy what they can carry in their hands.



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 07:22 PM
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originally posted by: OccamsRazor04
a reply to: DanDanDat

I agree, but doesn't take into account the danger of plastic to marine life.


It doesn't take into account China, either, which is where the vast majority of "marine plastic" comes from, right down the Yangtse River. When is the last time you or anybody you know threw plastic in the ocean? Never, right? You wanna clean this up you'll have to go to the source. Banning plastic bags in grocery stores is not going to cut it.



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 07:22 PM
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The flaw in this, and I am about as conservative as they come, is that the study was based on "typical patterns of use and disposal". The problem isn't that cotton bags are inherently worse. It is that people tend to use them a few times and then toss them in a corner and get another six months later when they decide to be "green" again thus skewing the per use data.

My wife and I have had 4 cotton bags that my mom made 10 years ago. They are super sturdy and can carry as much as you have the strength to carry. While we occasionally forget, they have been used probably a few thousand times and have no end in sight.

Again, this issue isn't that cotton bags are somehow a waste of time and not good for the environment, it is that most people just don't execute their intent and the resources per shopping trip aren't showing the value with "typical patterns of use and disposal".

No amount of skewed BS study is going to convince me that 4 bags that will rot in the earth in months are worse than the several thousand plastic bags I would have gotten.
edit on 2-4-2019 by Halfswede because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 07:28 PM
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originally posted by: schuyler

originally posted by: OccamsRazor04
a reply to: DanDanDat

I agree, but doesn't take into account the danger of plastic to marine life.


It doesn't take into account China, either, which is where the vast majority of "marine plastic" comes from, right down the Yangtse River. When is the last time you or anybody you know threw plastic in the ocean? Never, right? You wanna clean this up you'll have to go to the source. Banning plastic bags in grocery stores is not going to cut it.


I lived on the west coast for many years, and the most commonly thing thrown in the ocean is water bottles. It is shocking how many boat people just toss it over, or people on the beach just walk away and leave them.

It is by no means comparable to what China does, but people do in fact throw plastic right in the ocean. Most just washes down rivers in floods though from peoples yards, parking lot storm drains etc.
edit on 2-4-2019 by Halfswede because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 07:29 PM
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originally posted by: Metallicus
The plastic bags they use at Kroger are actually biodegradeable. Not that I believe in the global warming scam, but the reality long as I don’t litter I am happy.

I have heard they degrade down to molecular level but no further. They do not degrade back into natural substances but remain plastic molecules basically forever.



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 08:15 PM
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originally posted by: Halfswede
My wife and I have had 4 cotton bags that my mom made 10 years ago. They are super sturdy and can carry as much as you have the strength to carry. While we occasionally forget, they have been used probably a few thousand times and have no end in sight.


According to a Denmark’s ministry of environment and food, in their 2018 life-cycle assessment, you might have to use those cotton bags for another 20 years before they start paying for themselves environmentally.


Conventional cotton requires 7,100 reuses to have same cumulative environmental impact (water use, energy use, etc.) as a classic plastic bag



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 08:23 PM
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Not one mention, in the whole article, about hemp. I’d like to see where it lands in the study.



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 08:27 PM
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a reply to: DanDanDat

Symbolism is always greater than substance. Haven't you learned how this game is played by now? The cotton bags make people feel good. That's all that matters.



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 08:29 PM
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We reuse all our bags, both paper and plastic. We also have a half dozen tote bags we use regularly. I prefer the paper bags because I can use them to hold kindling and also then use them to start the fire in the woodstove. We haul things to the daughters house in the paper or plastic bags, then they use them as we do, to line the small garbage cans in the bathrooms.

I can't say which is more economical, but if we did not use those plastic bags for the trash in the little cans, we would be buying bags to line them.



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 08:42 PM
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a reply to: rickymouse

Reusing plastic and paper bags seems like the most environmentally friendly way to go.



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 09:39 PM
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a reply to: DanDanDat

They state specifically that in that study that "litter" was not considered as an environmental impact. That is pretty much the biggest problem with the bags.

It is estimated that 1 in 200 gets recycled, leaving nearly a trillion going into landfills (or just "out there") worldwide annually.

It's like saying that as long as you don't consider the poop and pee, raw sewage is nearly as safe as drinking water.

I don't really care what people use, but the implication that my 4 cotton bags that have been used thousands of times are somehow worse than 20000 plastic bags is just nonsense.
edit on 2-4-2019 by Halfswede because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 09:46 PM
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a reply to: DanDanDat
don't recycle paper bags!
throw them away! That way you are actually sequestering carbon rather than putting the paper through a process full of ridiculously environmentally unfriendly chemicals, only to have a portion of it actually recycled. While also pulling more CO2 from the atmosphere via the trees grown specifically for the purpose of wood pulp and paper production.

I swear I'm not an environmental nutjob, but for those that are, I beg they are at least internally consistent and logical.

Use more paper... to save earth!



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 09:47 PM
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a reply to: Halfswede

They are also not considering the secondary impacts of cotton production. Run off and pesticides.

But if recycling is the concern; institution of a more robust recycling program would be the better choice than to hysterically push people into the use of an even more harmful product.

As it is now the country is going backwards on recycling; but instead of dealing with that problem our local, state and federal governments are instead talking about how to get ride plastic bags.
edit on 2-4-2019 by DanDanDat because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 10:11 PM
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a reply to: DanDanDat

Actually they do take into account the runoff effects of cotton. It is why the organic cotton was evaluated differently. You should read the actual study. There are a lot of aspects that aren't properly highlighted in the article that aren't telling the whole story as it was never the intent of the study. It had a very specific regional purpose to evaluate.

Again, i don't care what someone uses, but not including the effects of dumping a trillion plastic bags annually vs a cotton and paper bags is more than slightly misleading.



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 10:15 PM
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a reply to: DanDanDat

I've had my cotton Trader Joe bags for over ten years....hard to imagine they are worse for the earth than single use bags that are now so thing they really can barely be single use anymore....they tear so easily.

I've also had my recycled reusable bags for many years. Some have been repaired for seams going [with duct tape].

So, I question the findings.



posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 10:17 PM
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a reply to: Halfswede

Not according to the article


According to the report, organic cotton bags have to be reused many more times than conventional cotton bags (20,000 versus 7,000 times),  based on the assumption that organic cotton has a 30% lower yield rate on average than conventional cotton, and therefore was assumed to require 30% more resources, like water, to grow the same amount.




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