Phil for Humanity Phil for Humanity
A Guide for the Survival of Humankind and Helping the World, Society, and Yourself.

Reusable Cloth Bags versus Plastic Bags

As a self declared environmentalist, I am at odds with using plastic bags versus using reusable cloth bags (also called reuse bags), because both types of bags have advantages and disadvantages. Here is why.

First, plastic bags are cheap, so they can be given away free without thought. Cloth bags are much more individually expensive, and only become cost effective in the very long term assuming they last a long enough time.

Second, plastic bags can be found everywhere. Only large chain stores carry reusable bags and for a cost. So you need to remember to bring enough cloth bags each time you go to the store.

Third, I reuse plastic bags at home as trash bags instead of buying trash bags. Why pay for trash bags when plastic bags are free? And trash bags are only used once, unlike plastic bags that can be used at least twice. Also, plastic bags are great for wet and messy waste that you wouldn’t want to dirty a cloth bag with. For example, plastic bags are perfect for dirty diapers or gooey kitchen waste.

Fourth, after I’ve collected a large number of plastic bags, they are easy to recycle. Are reuse cloth bags recyclable? Will they degrade over time buried in a landfill? I don’t know which type of bag is more environmentally friendly.

Finally, cloth bags are much sturdier than plastic bags, so you can put more in cloth bags thus carry more per bag and they last a lot longer if you are careful with them.

As a result, I find that I use both reuse cloth bags and plastic bags, since I have a reasonable need for both types of bags.

by Phil for Humanity
on 06/07/2010

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