Today I no longer wonder at people with colorful fabric bags coming out of grocery shops or at party favors from friends in the same bags instead of paper ones. The reason is that reusable tote bags have become an integral and customary part of our lives already and we stopped noticing them. Some may argue with my viewpoint but I suppose the governments’ policies have produced the effect.
While Bangladesh became the first country to introduce single-use plastic bags ban in 2002, other countries followed soon. Some impose taxes on plastic bags or offer rewards for not using them, and others forbid them completely. Such actions definitely show that the harm of single-use bags is so undisputable that reusing is an obvious alternative.
Together with Reducing and Recycling, Reusing makes up the three R’s “green” rule, so, if you consider yourself an environmentalist, make sure reusable tote bag substitute plastic ones in your house.
Pros and Cons of Reusable Tote Bags
Before turning to reusable tote bags it’s important to know their main advantages and disadvantages so that you can understand why you’re doing this.
- Reusability - It’s the most obvious advantage but yet the most significant. You spend money once and use the bag for a year or even more. The environment benefits because you don’t throw it away creating more rubbish.
- Comfort - Tote bags are made to meet the customer’s needs. They usually have strong handles of different length. Personally, I prefer ones that can stand up themselves, so it’s easy to put products in them. There are also options with pockets for cell-phones and wallets. Many bags can be folded to fit your pocket.
- Diversity - There are so many reusable tote bags on the market that it made me dizzy when I started to research. Colors and patterns are plentiful, and you can choose the shape and material. Designers have also contributed to this field with stylish and fashionable ideas.
- Less harmful manufacturing - That’s a dubious point, as for me, but many experts think so, especially when to compare reusable bags to plastic or paper. The advantage I definitely see is that many reusable bags are made of recycled materials and require fewer resources.
Those bags which are made of organic materials like cotton or jute are biodegradable which means it’s okay to throw them away after some time.
- Chemicals - Some reusable shopping bags may contain dangerous chemicals such as lead. This metal is extremely toxic and may damage the liver, kidneys, reproductive and nervous system. That’s why it’s important to choose bags properly.
- Bacteria - Although organic materials like cotton seem safe, they aren’t processed with the use of cleaning chemicals and may contain some microorganisms. It’s necessary to wash reusable tote bags often to eliminate bacteria and to prevent it. On the other hand, frequent washing may damage the fabrics.
- Production - It’s a well-known fact that cotton takes a lot of water and energy to grow and process. That’s why the production of reusable bags sometimes is considered equally harmful to the environment as plastic bags’ manufacturing.
- Many aren’t biodegradable - Not all the bags decompose at landfills. Many of the most popular ones contain different kinds of plastic and aren’t biodegradable.
Actually, it’s hard to find a product which is absolutely harmless to the environment. If you are worried about the disadvantages, I’ll put your mind at ease: if a shopping bag is used more than 100 times, it compensates the harm it’s production caused. By the less amount of litter in your trash bin, you’ll also notice, that reusability completely outweighs single-use items. However, to feel safe about your health, the well-being of your family, and the environment you have to choose wisely. I’ve selected a list of the most popular items on Amazon and analyzed them without any regard to the producers. Think carefully and choose the quality and features you’re ready to pay for.
7 Best Reusable Tote bags: Independent Reviews
Reusable Grocery Tote Bag Large 10 Pack It’s a simple grocery bag with comfortable handles which won’t hurt your hands and a bottom base stiffener insert. You can remove it to wash the bag or if you don’t need it. I feel sure the reinforced handles won’t come off because they’re sewn to the outer sides of the bag and the manufacturer emphasizes you can carry heavy things in it. As to the “green” qualities, it’s important that the material is recycled polypropylene. Though it’s a kind of plastic it’s durable and easy to wash. It’s great that the bags come in a set of 10, each one of a different color.
What I liked about them is that you can design them as you prefer because they are of a single color each and easy to embroider on. Children would love it! Reviewers praise the bags’ sturdiness: one bag holds up 2 gallons of milk easily. Items of different shapes fit into it due to the large size, so you’ll buy everything you need and will bring the purchases safely home. Although some complained of a chemical smell, the majority of customers didn’t notice it. Be sure not to order a fake of poor quality and to wash the bag before you put products in it.
Exclusively designed, these reusable tote bags in 4 colors have an unusual Istanbul pattern on them and it makes them more interesting. The handles are slightly different in shape compared to the previous item but strong enough to hold up heavy loads. They have additional stitching at stress points and long enough to be carried on a shoulder. There’s also a special loop to hang the bags at checkout lines in the shops. The bottom is reinforced with a removable plastic stiffener and it makes the bag even more reliable.
The customers noticed each of the bags can hold up more than a plastic bag of the same size. Reviewers like the colors and the size but the stinky chemical odor many complained of worries me. Many said airing the bags out is the solution but some couldn’t get rid of the smell. The material is 100% polypropylene (PP) but though it’s considered a safe plastic (yogurt containers are made of it) there should be something wrong with its quality. The main advantage of PP users enjoy is its durability, so no one complained their reusable tote bags broke.
These bags are smaller and are advertised as party favors or goodie bags for kids mainly. Nevertheless, I suppose you can use them for shopping as well to carry small items. Students carry books and notebooks in them and two or three relatively large books would fit in them. As for me, it’s a great idea to decorate these bags as personalized gifts.
The colors are so bright and they are all the rainbow colors. There are 12 items in a set, 2 of each color. By the way, don’t expect them to stand up on their own. The material is the same PP as in the previous products but the construction is different. Many people liked these bags because they’re bright, nice, and reusable. They were a hit on the parties and children enjoy them. Some were disappointed with the size but you always have to take your preferences into account before ordering. Pay attention to the size, it’s 13" x 10" x 3.9" with 7.5" handles. If you read all the details carefully the King’s deal bags will definitely serve their purpose.
The Dalix bags are extra-large, the size is 20" x 16" x 6". There’s a variety of choice as to the number of items in a package (up to 120) and their colors. The material is non-woven polypropylene. I was surprised that such a large bag designed to carry heavy things doesn’t have any bottom insert. That’s why it may be awkward if you stuff it with cans, for example.
Besides, the manufacturer doesn’t mention anything about the handles reinforcement. These facts made me doubt whether the bag will suit a great shopping spree. The reviewers confirmed my doubts. Many of them claimed the handles went off rather quickly. Others were dissatisfied with the material which was too thin. Nevertheless, the product has 4 and a half stars on Amazon with many positive reviews due to the bag’s spaciousness and design. If you need to carry cumbersome but light items, the Dalix tote is for you.
These are the sized down version of grocery totes by the same producer, which were the first in the list. They are the smallest bags of all that I’ve chosen with the dimensions of 8.25" x 10" x 4" with 16" handles. It means you can still take them to the shops but their main area of use is wedding parties, birthdays or other special occasions. Your guest would love them because there are 25 nice colors to choose from and an opportunity for you to decorate them.
You can also carry your lunch in them and will have to wash your bag, so make sure you do it carefully and hang them to dry. It’s better to hand wash them as manufacturers advise. Customers mainly like these totes due to their design and an obvious ability to hold presents and snacks. People use them to give gifts and the bags suit their purpose. Some reviewers warned you’d better not iron them, because the material can melt. I’m afraid that may hamper some plans for creative design. Click here to read more about the item.
ColorYourLife bags are small as well and are 10” by 10” in size with 8” handles. The bottom is folded, which means the bag is unlikely to stand up itself but it’s easy to fold it. It’s also a great alternative to use at parties both for kids and adults and to give away as party favors. The bags can be reused later for other purposes and children can play with them. The pack contains 7 bags of all the rainbow colors and they are rather bright and attractive.
There are no instructions as to the machine washing and I’m not sure if the colors won’t fade but I suppose you’d better not try machine washing and tumble-dry. The good news is that you can decorate them with an iron and they won’t melt like the previous product. The material is again the non-woven PP, so the item is going to serve you for years to come.
Though the majority of customers bought these reusable tote bags for some kids’ parties, some weren’t satisfied with the size. If you need a spacious bag even for children’s gift, the bag won’t do. The bottom may not be large enough and there is no information as to its width. Five-star reviews praise the colors and the opportunities to create your own design.