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Eco Friendly Reusable Canvas Tote Bags

Updated on August 3, 2010

The Benefits of Using an Eco Friendly Reusable Canvas Tote Bag - and the Negative Effects of Plastic Bags

When you head to the grocery store, there's a multitude of reusable bags available for sale. However, how durable are they? If you can't wash your bag in the washing machine, does it make sense as a purchase for you, especially when you're carrying raw meat and produce? Reusable canvas tote bags are an excellent choice for your grocery shopping trips, for their durability, their look, and for the fact that they can be washed after many uses.

Using any type of reusable bag is a giant step you can take towards helping the environment. The negative effects of plastic bags are everywhere, from the toll on wildlife, the pollution in our rivers, and the overfilling of our landfills. While plastic isn't going anywhere any time soon, we can all make small changes to reduce our plastic use today, and eventually phase out plastic entirely someday.

What Happens to Your Plastic Bags?

What do you do with your plastic bags if you happen to get them at the grocery store or elsewhere?

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Save our Oceans Reusable Tote Bag
Save our Oceans Reusable Tote Bag

Why Bother Using Reusable Canvas Tote Bags?

Why should you bother using reusable bags? After all, disposable bags are convenient, and always there when you need them. It would be nice to forget about the impact of our disposable lifestyle, and think that throwing things away doesn't affect us, or never will. The fact of the matter is that throwing away plastic does have repercussions. These consequences are evident in the Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating pile of man-made plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean. Amazingly, this piece of giant plastic is growing in size, and floats on top of the water like a man-made island. Wildlife can get caught in the debris, tangled, and ingest the debris, ultimately dying. This in turn can wind up in our fish, which we then consume.

Another downside to plastic is that it never biodegrades, even in water. Plastic bags in particular break apart into smaller pieces, polluting the ground soil, and eventually our drinking supply.

Ten Reasons to Use Reusable Bags

Why should you use reusable bags? To some, they seem inconvenient. You can't beat the convenience of something disposable sometimes, and it's easy to overlook the consequences of things that are easy. Here are a few reasons why you should reconsider using reusable bags instead of the throw-away plastic kinds that you're using now:

1. Plastic bags wind up on the roads, in parking lots, caught in trees, on car antennas, everywhere, making a giant eye sore for everyone to look at. In other words, plastic bags look like garbage, because they are.

2. They kill wildlife. Wildlife easily become suffocated and strangled by the plastic material. Unlike us, they can't pull the bag from off their heads. Once it's on, it's on. There's no natural defense mechanism for birds and wildlife to remove plastic bags.

3. Reusable bags save you money. Not big money, but a little bit of money. For every bag you bring into your grocery store, they'll credit you 5 cents (at most grocery stores). It's like having one extra coupon at the checkout.

4. You can fit more stuff into a reusable bag. Most reusable bags can fit 2-3 times as much as the normal plastic bag. That means less back and forth trips from the car to the house, from the house to the car, and back again.

5. They don't rip like plastic bags. Ever had a container of milk explode because a plastic bag ripped apart during transport? Not a pretty sight to see, or smell for that matter.

6. Reusable bags are washable. Not all reusable bags, but some can be washed, especially if they are constructed of canvas.

7. Plastic bags increase our dependence on foreign oil.  Plastic bags use oil, which we purchase from foreign countries that frankly don't like the United States. When we buy their oil, we  support them, and indirectly support terrorism against us.

8. Plastic bags have high emissions during production. When plastic bags are produced, the process has a high amount of emissions into the air.

9. Plastic bags are not biodegradable. Reusable canvas bags, however, are made of natural materials that in time, will break down.

10. Plastic bags cause sea creatures to suffocate. When plastic bags are floating in the ocean, animals like turtles easily mistake these for jellyfish or something to be consumed. When the plastic bags pass through their system, they knot up, blow up, or cannot be passed by the animal and lead to death.

How Does Your Reusable Bag Hold Up Over Time?

Do you use reusable bags for your grocery shopping?

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How Plastic Bags Effect Birds

One of the deadliest consequences of plastic bags has been the suffocation of birds. In flight, birds can often get caught in plastic bags, suffocating and trying to escape until exhaustion. Without hands, it's pretty difficult to remove something that's trapped over your entire body.

How do plastic bags end up in the environment? From garbage trucks, and from the number one cause, littering. Littering of plastic bags and other man-made materials have deadly consequences, as you can read on this article about birds and plastics. Even small bits of plastic bags that have torn apart can still choke birds to death, and has a similar effect on ocean critters.

What You Can Do to Prevent Plastic Bags From Entering the Environment

If you throw away your plastic bags, try to send them to be recycled instead. Most grocery stores have a receptacle to recycle plastic bags. If you know someone that doesn't use reusable bags, give them a couple of yours.  If it's up for discussion, tell them about the consequences of plastic bags, and how switching to reusable bags is a good alternative. If that's not enough, throw in the tidbit about the reusable bag credit - that's usually a good last resort.

Plastic Bag Reuse in Kenya - Helping Alleviate Plastic Bag Litter

Make Plastic Extinct! Go Reusable with Your Shopping Bags!

Every year, trillions - not millions or even billions - of plastic bags are thrown away, tossed forever into a landfill. Plastic bags take thousands of years to break apart, and when we say break apart, we don't mean decompose. Organic matter decomposes. Plastic matter, like plastic bags and bottles, do not decompose. They break down into smaller bits and pieces, polluting rivers, waterways, streams, and oceans. This contaminates our drinking supply, and negatively effects our wildlife.

But, there's hope! We can reduce our plastic bag use through reusable bags. Let's make plastic extinct. It's time plastic bags went the way of the dinosaur - go reusable!

Just Say No to Plastic Bags!


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    • Wendy Krick profile image

      Wendy Krick 7 years ago from Maryland

      I try to use my canvas bags as much as possible. Sometime I forget to bring them with me to the store though.

    • mulberry1 profile image

      Christine Mulberry 8 years ago

      I like all of these bags, but the Save Our Oceans one really suits me. I do need one...