Why do we love canvas tote bags? Let us count the reasons!
No, I’m not going to break into poetry like Shakespeare today. But I am going to take a few moments to talk about the importance of reusable tote bags. We’ll explore a few reasons why it’s time to say no to single-use; some resources you can check out if you want to make a reusable cloth bag of your own; and some great places to purchase an eco-friendly bag that will last you through hundreds of trips to the store.
That’s a lot to unpack — so let’s get started!
The Importance of Eco-Friendly Reusable Tote Bags
According to data collected by Sciencing, Americans go through more than one hundred billion plastic grocery bags per year; the average family collects more than 1500 in a year!
As you can imagine, only a miniscule fraction of these bags are recycled properly — about 2%. The rest go out into the environment, where they create all sorts of problems. Per Sciencing:
- 8% of all litter observed in public sites was plastic bags
- 1-3% of American plastic shopping bags clutter and pollute the environment outside of landfills.
- 100 billion bags take up space in landfills
Millions of plastic bags also wind up in our waterways, where they pose a serious hazard to sea life (check out our post on the perils of plastic for more astonishing numbers). Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose; as it breaks down, harmful microplastics leech out into the environment.
And for another environmental wallop? Most plastic grocery bags are made from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource that contributes to climate change and interrupts ecosystems around the planet.
While paper bags are more recyclable and compostable, they’re not immune from problems either. Paper bags can be difficult to manage, and they tear easily. Plus, as Stanford Magazine points out, “manufacturing a paper bag requires about four times as much water as a plastic bag.” Plus, many of the chemicals and fertilizers used to treat wood during tree farming can lead to problems like acid rain, while causing damage to our waterways.
So, that’s why it’s important to skip the single-use bags! And one other thing? While it may be tempting to swap out single-use plastic for a sturdier, reusable plastic bag, that’s just “making problems worse,” as Quartz notes:
because no matter the style of plastic bag, it will still contribute to the global problem of forever-trash entering the environment, and the greenhouse gases associated with manufacturing the bag from fossil fuels in the first place.
Instead, opt for a canvas tote bag. These convenient and easy-to-carry bags have been around since the 17th century, and are becoming increasingly popular as a way to lug around groceries, cleaning supplies, and anything else you need to take with you — with none of the waste along the way!
How to Make Your Own Eco-Friendly Reusable Bag
Fortunately, it’s easier than you might think to whip up a reusable bag that can help you remove thousands upon thousands of plastic bags from circulation. All you really need is a good swatch of plant-based fiber (such as cotton twill or hemp), some scissors, a sewing kit or sewing machine, and a little bit of creativity!
Here are some of our favorite online resources for creating your own DIY tote bags using your favorite environmentally friendly materials:
- “How to Make a Tote Bag,” from Instructables
- “How to Make the Perfect Everyday Tote Bag,” from Spoonflower Blog
- “30 DIY Tote Bags To Create At Home,” from DIYS.com
- “How to Make a Bag: Easy Tote Bag Pattern,” from Crazy Little Projects
Do you have any favorite patterns or designs you want to share? Got a go-to guide for DIY totes that you swear by? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to drop me a line or send us a message on social media to share your favorites! We are always looking for sustainable ideas to add to our repertoire!
Looking to purchase a reusable tote bag here in Chicago? I’ve got plenty of recommendations I’d love to share! Shopping local and supporting businesses committed to the environment means everything to us here at Sweeping Dimensions. If you’re ever looking for local guidance, I’d love to help out! To start, check out our environmentally friendly gift guide, and our list of Chicago-area businesses doing good in the community.
Ready to Make This Your Greenest Year Yet?
Here at Sweeping Dimensions, one of our primary goals is to make cleaning less stressful for our clients — and more healthy and sustainable for our environment.
We also believe in passing along our green cleaning knowledge, whenever we can. We love to talk all things cleaning and organizing, including the strategies that can make taking care of your home a greener and more enjoyable practice. The more people we can bring together in our mission for a healthier world, the better off planet will be!
So, if you ever have a question about comparing cleaning products, starting a new recycling practice, or making a sustainable swap in your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch — we’re always happy to talk shop and try to make a difference, however we can.
At SDCS, we’re sincerely passionate about these issues, dedicated to finding real solutions, and always eager to keep the conversation going.
Curious about what steps you can take to have a positive impact on the environment, even during the coronavirus quarantine? Want to set up an environmentally friendly cleaning for your Chicago home? Don’t hesitate to reach out for your free service estimate!