In recent years in Australia, there has been lots of talk about single use plastics and their effect on the environment.
With this has become the norm of shoppers using their own reusable bags when they go shopping. And stores are also starting to give the option of paying for reusable bags to be purchased from their store along with the customers purchase or at least posing the question, “Do you require a bag today?”. This is great as it then has forced the customers hand to make the choice and ideally at some point has purchased a reusable cloth bag.
Reuse vs. Single Use
While we acknowledge that it takes much less energy and resources to produce a single use plastic bag over a reusable bag, those same resources are surmounted by the sheer magnitude of plastic bags necessary to keep up with consumerism demand.
We, in Australia, currently use just under four billion plastic bags every year. Each one of those bags require a significant amount of resources to make.
Then after only being used once or twice, it also requires a significant amount of money and resources to clean up and dispose of those close to four billion plastic bags yearly. It costs the Australian government more than $4 million a year to clean up plastic bag litter. Also only 14% of plastic is recovered for recycling or energy recovery.
What makes cloth bags the better option over plastic?
Cloth bags are better than plastic bags for several reasons including but not limited to:
1. they decrease the amount of single-use plastic bags produced.
2. they also inadvertently decrease the amount of plastic bags discarded into the environment.
3. they require less natural resources to produce (considering all reusable bags are reused to their full capacity)
4. they're multipurpose, meaning they don't only need to be used for shopping but across many areas of your life such as school, a beach trip or work.
5. they're made from natural fibres such as cotton, hemp, jute or alike, which are not only renewable for manufacturing, but are biodegradable when discarded.
Reducing Plastic Pollution
There are many ways we can consciously cut down our plastic use in our every day lives and one of the most impactful ways is to use a cloth shopping bag and re-use, re-use, re-use! And then when it finally is finished with, and disposed of thoughtfully, it can break down and be reabsorbed into the environment in a far more efficient way.