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Eco-conscious: Cloth Grocery Bags Answered

My friend Rawhide did a considerable bit of pre-consumption research into cloth grocery bags, so I'm reposting his conclusions here. What are your preferences?

Rawhide on cloth grocery bags:
I wound up buying these bags since they were lightweight, under $15, and could stand on their own.

Overall, I've found them quite nice. The nicest thing is that even a large grocery trip fits in 4 bags, so it's just easier to move them from the cart to the car and the car to the house. They do stand on their own, though they have to be fully open and placed down with a modicum of care; I guess they are exactly like paper grocery bags in this regard.

Baggers deal with them fine, though I have to thrust the bags on them. I've never had one really notice the bags until I plop them down. Even then they sometimes reach for the plastic out of habit.


I's funny that you should link to that sire. I was just reading it for the first time yesterday when I was looking for a good non-leaching water bottle. I ended up picking up a 1 Liter Sigg from Sports Basement today.

I try not to use plastic bags from the grocer - luckily, my loads are small and the big stuff comes from warehouse stores which give you free boxes (they would otherwise discard) to use :P

I know, don't kill the messenger. But I think marcos gives an interesting point. Now I could be wrong, but I believe Cordura is a Rayon derivative (or at one time was). Rayon, is very not eco-friendly - it's derived cellulose (think trees).

If the formula has changed (it it may have - it's been around a long time) -- all that probably won't apply here :P

This is, a very good idea :) The only problem I see is that the people that need to use this wont and the people that are more responsible with their waste would use it...

That last thing you said is a big one. Here in the bay area people are more mindful about their actions. It's no eco-utopia by any stretch of the imagination, but it's in the local dialogue.

I often bring my own bags to stores and find a use for every bag that we do get. I could be better, but it's a step in the right direction.

The last time I stopped off in Reno on my way to Burning Man I went to a Safeway and they double-bagged everything. Two boxes of cereal? Shit, that just might rupture, better double up. I'm no saint and I was on my way to an event where conspicuous consumption is the norm even if it is cleaned up at the end, but far too few care.

Self checkout stations are popping up in chain stores all over here (Orlando area). It's quite easy to see the bag consumption on an individual basis. Does every item need its own bag? Unfortunately, I have yet to hear the word "conserve" unless it's a road sign that says "conserve water" during a seasonal drought (which is usually right about now). I guess I'll experience some culture shock (in a good way?) this summer :)

It'll be awesome. Hopefully this kind of culture is viral.


11 years ago

Are they -really- eco-concious if they are made of nylon? What becomes of them when they eventually wear out? it would be interesting to see some information on how green the "eco bags" are compared to recycling plastic ones. I suspect the energy costs to make and transport the plastic ones are high, but overall? My cotton bags don't stand up on their own, (I guess I could modify them to do so), and I can use 'em for rags or throw them in the compost pile when they're completely worn out. When I do use plastic or paper, they get re-used and/or recycled.

They address thesustainability issues on the site.

These bags may not meet cradle to cradle requirements, but there are many advantages. The advantage of nylon over cotton is strength and fewer petrochemicals used up in production. Cotton is resource hungry and requires a lot of oil to produce.

It's definitely better to use one high-quality item over and over than to use up lots of disposable ones. Recycling isn't free. It takes a lot of energy to pick it up, bring it to the centers, and then recycle it. Many times these items are downcycled since the plastics don't hold up so well.

My bags are mostly cotton conference freebies, and definitely don't stand up on their own. We re-use any plastic bags to contain potential spills from our lunch tupperware, and reuse those paper bags for our recycling. The NYTimes had an article on the eco-friendliness of synthetics (.pdf available here because it's reached the subscription archives) which might help.

At Berkeley Bowl bringing your own bag is de rigueur, so nobody bats an eye. Of course, I also usually pack my own bags, so it's even less of an issue..

Several local Trader Joe's have started giving out raffle tickets for bringing your own bags; is this just a local thing, or are they all doing it?