Since 2016

May 2013

All About Reusable Tote Bags

Durable and eco-friendly shopping bags help to save our landfills.Year after year, tote bags are in the top 10 list of promotional product categories. There are many reasons. Disposable shopping bags, whether paper or plastic, do not always end up being recycled. Despite best intentions, far too many end up in landfills. And beyond. Our oceans now have floating “landfills” ten times the size of Virginia. In response to this, we are seeing more and more cities pass laws banning or penalizing the use of these bags in retail stores. In 2010, Washington, D.C. passed a law imposing a fee on plastic bags, and it resulted in a reduction in usage from over 22 million monthly to just 3 million. A similar bill was recently introduced in Congress, asking for a 5-cents-a-bag fee on single-use plastic and paper bags. The intention is for revenue from this program to support the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which primarily goes back to state and local governments for development of outdoor recreational facilities. Whether Congress will ever pass this law is, of course, open to question, but it is a sign of a gradually turning tide.

The grocery type of plastic bag is very difficult to recycle. It is made of polyethylene film, and contain a maximum of 35% recycled material. The majority of the content can't be recycled. That's why so many stores offer reusable cloth bags, imprinted with their brand. While they make a small profit by selling these bags to their customers, the real benefit is the continually repeated advertising the bags provide. They tend to be kept for a long time, serving as billboards.

The most common materials for reusable tote bags are canvas, cotton, and polypropylene. (Yes, that last one is a type of plastic, but completely recyclable and considered a good environmental choice.) Canvas is the heaviest of these, appropriate when strength is the most important factor. It really depends on how a bag will be used. Cotton is next in line, very strong but not as heavy as canvas. Polyethylene is the lightest in weight, but strong in proportion to its weight. Of course, each of these types is available in a range of thicknesses. Optional features include side pockets, zippers, and insulation. There is a bag for every purpose. Lunch bags, duffle bags, sling bags, drawstring backpack, messenger bags, attaches, computer bags, coolers, and on and on. Focus first on the purpose, then the materials and options will be much easier to address. It's easy to search online, but with so many choices, that can be a little daunting. That's why we're as close as your phone.

Did You Know?

Did you know about aptco capabilities? Only a tiny fraction of single-use grocery bags are ever recycled.

For more about APTCO, click here.

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Favorite quotations “Never doubt that a small group of thoughfully committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

~Margaret Mead

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