Cloth Bags vs Plastic Bags: Which Is More Sustainable?

Cloth Bags vs Plastic Bags: Which Is More Sustainable?

Free A Pile of Plastic Bags and Plastic Bottles Stock Photo

The use of disposable plastic bags is becoming a serious global problem, not just because they are non-biodegradable and last forever, but also because they pollute the land, sea, and the environment.

Plastic bag bans are in full effect. Cities that have previously banned plastic bags now have full bans in place. Worse, some of these cities have difficulty getting businesses to comply with the bans. The issue? They are trying to ban plastic bags without offering a replacement.

This blog will look at cotton or cloth bags and their benefits to the sustainable table. But are cloth bags better than plastic for the environment? Most people are unaware of certain considerations when using cloth bags. They might not be as ideal as we think they are. This blog will also look at cloth and plastic bags and some of their positive and negative aspects.

Challenges Due to Plastic Usage

Plastic Bags affect the environment

Plastic pollution is rampant in nearly every part of the globe and can take various forms, such as microplastics, polystyrene beads and nurdles, solid plastic debris, discarded fishing nets, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and discarded plastic bags. In addition, plastic chemicals are also harmful to the environment and can cause several adverse human health effects, including cancer, if consumed.

Some challenges with plastic include:

  1. Plastics are a huge pollutant in our environment because they don't break down; they only break up into smaller pieces. Over time, these smaller pieces of plastic add up and cause serious harm to the environment and the creatures that live in it.
  2. Microplastics have been found in food that is meant for human consumption. The average person could be ingesting up to 5 grams of plastic a week without knowing it.
  3. The presence of toxic chemicals like phthalates and BPA in plastic food packaging is a cause for concern.
  4. It’s estimated that if current trends continue, by 2050, more plastic will be in our oceans than fish.
  5. Recycled plastics are often downcycled, which means they’re reused to create lower-quality products that might not be recycled again.
  6. We should all be concerned about the impact that plastic has on our health. Studies have found that the harmful chemicals in plastic can lead to various health problems, including fertility and metabolic disorders.
  7. There are seven different types of plastic available in a typical waste stream. However, due to the lack of information on the degradation behaviour of each type, producers often combine all the compounds in the manufacturing process. As a result, recycling becomes more difficult, leading to incineration and wasting valuable resources.

These challenges represent why the world needs to be concerned about sustainable living.

Cloth Bags vs Plastic Bags

Use Cotton Tote Bags

Reusable cloth bags are usually made of a sturdy fabric like canvas or burlap. The average consumer can use their cloth bag multiple times before replacing it. Also, since these bags are reusable, they save you money as well!

A brief comparison between cloth bags vs plastic bags is mentioned below:

Cloth Bags

Plastic Bags

Made using natural materials

Made using fossil fuels



Safe for wildlife and oceans

Dangerous for wildlife and oceans

Don’t leach harmful chemicals

Leach harmful chemicals in the water or other food items carried in plastic

Can tolerate heat

Cannot tolerate a lot of heat

Advantages of cloth Bags

There are many other benefits to using cloth bags instead of plastic bags. Unlike plastic bags, cloth bags are biodegradable and can decompose in landfills. This makes them much more environmentally friendly than plastic bags. Cotton bags can also serve as decorations, such as in the case of a gift bag. 

Other advantages of cloth bags include the following:

  1. Reusability
  2. Low maintenance
  3. Carry more weight than plastic bags
  4. Long-lasting
  5. Multiple design options

Before you decide to go for cloth bags, there are some things you should consider. We need to make sure that cloth bags are made sustainably. For example, the production of cotton bags often consumes a lot of energy and water and impacts the ozone layer. Additionally, these cloth bags are not always easy to recycle.

A cotton bag's contribution to ozone depletion is 20,000 times greater than a single-use plastic bag. Even though ozone depletion is a large factor, it is not the focus of life cycle assessments.

A study conducted by the Environmental Agency in 2011 indicates that you'd need to use a cotton bag 131 times to make it a more favourable choice than a plastic carrier bag in terms of climate change.

The main thing to remember is to reuse your cloth bags as much as possible and only get new ones when you need them. The best option for the environment is to use the bag you already have at home – whether it’s made of paper, cotton, or plastic.

Stepping Towards Sustainable Living

One way to reduce the use of plastic is to carry reusable cloth bags. Cloth bags are an excellent example of this. They can hold a lot of weight while still being very light to carry. While cotton bags are certainly light, they are very sturdy. They are sturdy enough to be used over and over again. Sturdy and reusable cotton bags are a part of a sustainable, affordable lifestyle.

If you are looking for cloth bags online, Beco's grocery bag is a perfect choice for any shopping trip. It's made of lightweight and robust cloth and is 100% eco-friendly. Plus, it's perfect for carrying everything from groceries to daily essentials to beach supplies. Visit Beco’s website and shop for eco-friendly products now.