Friday, January 3, 2014

Reusable Bags

I bought this reusable shopping bag late in 2010. (May have been 2011, but I'm pretty sure it was 2010.). I bought quite a few to use as stocking stuffers and kept one for myself.  I liked it because it was quite compact.  So I could just stuff it in my backpack (my version of a purse) and always have it with me.  It wasn't perfect because it is nylon and nylon is plastic.  But I figured that it would last forever and therefore perhaps maybe outweigh the production waste of four or five cotton bags.  
Well, it's starting to fall apart.  I brought it into my craft room intending to fix it and thought, "Why couldn't this same design be made out of a less destructive material?" Don't worry.  I still intend to fix it. Mending something is still better than replacing it. So I made this: 
Same basic design concept.  But made out of cotton instead of nylon.  Cotton fabric will decompose in under 6 months compared to nylon which takes 30-40 years.  And that's under ideal circumstances.  If they are deprived of oxygen and other natural requirements for biodegradation, it takes much longer, if they completely decompose at all.  

Now, as I understand it, nylon never truly biodegrades. The particles just break apart becoming smaller and smaller chunks of the polymer. So even though it appears to have disappeared to us, the tiny pieces are still floating around and polluting the world.

This bag is also nylon, but I like it because it is an upcycled flag.  In this case, one of the ones that hangs from the streetlights.  Rather than just tossing out the old flag, they decided to turn it into something useful and give them away.  And it's pretty.  :)

I read an article once that stated it takes 26 uses of a reusable travel mug to actually start making up for the production compared to the production of the "disposable" cups.  I would imagine that it would be similar in the case of bags.  

So let's look at my usage.  I would say that I use a reusable bag at least 3-4 times a week.  (That is seperate occasions, not 3-4 bags used at once.)  that's one bag used 3.5 times a week, 182 times a year and having has this bag for just over three years, an estimated 574 uses in its lifetime so far. Minus 26 to accommodate for the production and that is 548 "disposable" plastic bags worth of pollution and garbage reduced by this bag.  Again, so far as I do still intend to mend and keep using the bag. 

Not too shabby.  Now, if I can reduce that footprint even further by using a material that will go back to the earth at the end of its lifetime, that would make me a very happy girl.  

On a side note.  I intend to make more of these bags (I have made one more already.) and have them available to buy on etsy. There aren't any bags posted yet, but keep your eye out at for these and other creations by me.


  1. That's awesome. The new shopping bag is lovely. Would you consider making them with longer handles so it's easier to get things in and out of them? Just a thought. Keep being your beautiful green self! I love that so much about you.

  2. If you saw the actual bag, you might see the handles differently. They are quite wide, so give the illusion of being short. Also, the bag is still folded in on the sides a bit. Not the best picture. But don't worry, I'll take nicer ones for etsy.