Reusable Bags: Necessary or Greenwashing?

A necessary lifestyle change that turned into more waste and greenwashing.

With the rising popularity to join the eco-movement under the pressing urgency of climate change becoming more apparent, we find ourselves at a large intersection of many topics from personal human consumption to environmental justice. This massive merging of information mixed with chaos leads to a lot of confusion, and ultimately more harm than good. We tend to get caught up in the emotional triggers like, "straws are killing sea turtles," and then the first fix that comes up like 'reusable straws' without engaging in further questioning around the sustainability + ethicality of these "green" items or solutions, which leads to counter productivity in a movement of serious importance.

Greenwashing (n) : expressions of environmentalist concerns especially as a cover for products, policies, or activities

Polyethylene bags, most commonly given to customers around the world when shopping, were first banned by Bangladesh's government in 2002 starting a stream of bans on the mostly single-use bags all around the world. Here in the US, California was the first state to enact a ban by voters in 2016. (Wikipedia) While the concerns about plastic bags are valid- and we are 100% on board with the reality of the impact they have, there was a disconnect as the wave of mass produced "reusable bags" followed. As with most reusable items these days, there is a serious need for items like them, but how good are we really doing if those single use bags are just being replaced with the same amount of low quality bags that depending on the lifespan, usage, and fabric material can impact the environment just as negatively? The conversation around our own personal consumption is vital to establishing change in common practices we all share to positively impact many areas like the health of our environment. So what can we do to ensure we are taking the best action forward when making the choice to go green? Here are 4 of our top tips to get on the reusable train the right way:

1. ALWAYS, use what you have first. Look around your belongings and see what you already have that could be used for the purpose you desire. Maybe you have reusable bags you've accumulated already on hand that would work, or maybe you can reuse the single use plastic bags you've been stashing away under the sink until they cannot be used anymore. You could even make your own or invest in having someone who can sew create ones for you using materials from old clothes, bags, ect. The goal is to utilize what you have first and foremost to cut back on consumption if it isn't necessary.

2. Do your own research. Get familiar with the facts around these green topics, and learn about the different materials that are being used to create reusable bags so you can make an informed purchase on a bag that you feel will work the best for you and the environment.

Did you know that a cotton tote bag has to be reused thousands of times to match up with a regular plastic bag? (Quartz, 2019)

3. Invest in quality, refuse anything else. You will frequently see companies giving out low quality free reusable bags or trying to sell you those bags. Refuse to take anything that you know isn't quality.

4. Commit to care + repair. Take the best care of your bags that you can, and repair (always a great time to learn how to sew, or get in touch with someone who can) any damage to keep you bags for years to come.

Ready to invest in quality, low-impact (when used properly), reusable bags for all of your carrying needs? Shop our handmade to order bags here

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