Cotton Bags – 5 things to know about them

1) Cotton bags are made from cotton

Yes that’s right! A little obvious but cotton bags are made out of cotton. As Wikipedia puts it: “Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fibre that grows in a boll, or protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plant. The fibre is almost pure cellulose.” This makes cotton bags a plant based product. Cotton is grown in many countries in abundance. In China most of it is grown for its own use. The United States of America exports a lot of the cotton it grows but most of this is imported back in form of mainly clothing. India is a large grower of cotton. In fact the earliest evidence of cotton use was found in India. Here cotton threads were found preserved in cotton beads dating back to between 6000 and 5000 BC.

2) Come in many colours

Not only do cotton bags come in many colours but the colours used, do show up vibrantly. Colour can be used in two different ways on cotton bags. Either the whole cotton bag can be dyed or various coloured prints can be transferred onto the bags. There are many ways to dye cotton. The longest lasting and easiest to use dyes for hand dyeing cotton are the cold water fibre reactive dyes. Cotton can also be dyed with direct dyes and all-purpose dyes. Though the colours from these less wash fast dyes will fade quickly unless a cationic after treatment is used to fix them. It is worth knowing that cotton can also be bred naturally to have colours other than the yellowish off-white colour that it normally grows as. Although this is relatively rare as it requires specialised harvest techniques and facilities.

3) Versatility

Cotton bags are incredibly versatile. They can never go out of style as they can be dressed down for a daily casual look or dressed up for a more sophisticated style. One of the greatest features of cotton is that it is a renewable fabric and can be made into a variety of different sized tote bags, pouches or a bag to take with you on a trip. For those who use reusable bags, cotton bags can be rolled up in your pocket as opposed to jute bags. This makes it easier for them to be carried around and to be used on a daily basis.

4) Durability

The more a cotton bag weighs the more durable it is. The heavier cotton bags are known as canvas bags. Canvas bags are typically 8 to 12 ounces. The more durable a bag is the more chances are of its reusability. And the more a cotton or canvas bag is used as opposed to a plastic bag, the less the impact to the environment. According to Nick Sterling, research director at Natural Capitalism Solutions “If used once per week, four or five reusable bags will replace 520 plastic bags a year”. A study commissioned by the United Kingdom Environment Agency in 2005 found that the average cotton bag is used at least 51 times before being thrown away.

5) Not just for Hippies! 🙂 

Finally cotton bags are not just for hippies! Now that they come in many more designs and colours they are used by people from many walks of life. Even celebrities like Jessica Biel, Sophia Bush and Jessica Alba have promoted use of eco-friendly bags in the past, especially during Earth day.


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