Cotton vs Plastic Bags
In the past decade, many cities and countries have banned the use of plastic bags. They have done this to help save the planet from pollution. At first, plastic was not a big deal. But when the story of a sperm whale found with plastic in its stomach broke out, many governments and environmental preservation environments went to work to set rules and regulations regarding the use of plastic bags.
But though they are banned, one has to wonder – are cotton bags a better replacement for plastic bags? Well, below is a quick breakdown revealing how people feel about them.
First and foremost, we shall start by pointing out the fact that some people believe that plastic bags are better than cotton bags. This is because processing cotton uses a lot of energy and resources and tends to pollute the environment more. But if you move past this, many pros put cotton bags on a higher pedestal than plastic bags.
Plastic bags do not decompose
The thing with plastic is that they take aeons to decompose. The time a plastic product takes to decompose depends on its hardness and what is used to make it. Hard plastic can take up to 400 years to decompose.
While regular light plastic bags can take about 20 years to decompose. For the plastics that find their way into the ocean, when they start decomposing, they become heavier and sink to the ocean floor. Here, marine life feeds on the plastic bits. The plastic bits are harmful to aquatic life. This much has been proven by the death of the sperm whale that was washed up to the Italian beach.
Why not also read: What are Plastic Bags Made Of?
On the flip side, cotton bags decompose since they are made from a cotton plant. But in most cases, people never wait for the cotton bags to decompose since they use them for many years, unlike flimsy plastic bags that stretch and give out with time. And here’s the best part – when cotton fabric gets wet, it becomes even stronger and can carry more weight.
Cotton bags are easy to print on
Cotton bags are not only durable but easy to print on. Since it is natural fabric, it bloats the ink and retains it for a long time. On the other hand, ink on plastic bags remains on the surface. And with time, the ink fades. This means that marketing and creating a brand with printed plastic bags is not the most effective way to do it.
Back to the carbon footprint
Studies show that cotton tote bags have a carbon footprint of about 598.6lbs of carbon (IV) oxide. This is in comparison to a meagre 3.48lbs of carbon (IV) oxide by regular plastic bags. What this means is that one would have to use a cotton tote bag 172 times for every time they use a plastic bag.
And while these stats are true, they are somewhat myopic. Why? Well, they don’t factor in the aftermath of using plastic and the fact that cotton bags are durable enough to be used more than 172 times.
The effect plastic bags have on the environment is more devastating than the carbon footprint of cotton bags (which by the way, it more than makes up for through its durability).
Though some experts are pro plastic bags, some strongly defend cotton bags as well. And going by the above arguments and points, cotton bags are better than plastic bags in the long run – they decompose faster.