In an effort to reduce plastic pollution, several single-use plastic items have recently been banned for production in, and import into, Canada. This includes, among other things, some plastic food containers, plastic straws, six-pack rings, and plastic checkout bags. The ban on the actual sale of these items will take effect in December 2023.
For Canadian consumers, this means that when grocery shopping, customers will no longer be able to rely on single-use plastic bags to carry groceries home. Instead, we will need to bring reusable bags, or purchase a reusable bag at the store.
While reusable bags can be a good alternative to single-use plastic bags, they do come with drawbacks. One, of course, is the cost of purchasing a reusable bag any time you forget your own. And when it comes to eco-friendliness, the environmental performance of the reusable bags widely-available in grocery stores is actually a mixed bag!
In 2020, the United Nations Environment Programme published a report assessing the life cycle impact of various reusable bags. The data showed that the non-woven polypropylene bags that are commonly offered in grocery stores need to be reused 10 to 20 times to have a lower climate impact than a single-use plastic bag, and a reusable cotton bag needs to be used 50 to 150 times. (source)
The takeaway? The best reusable bag is the bag that you’ll actually use!
Here are some key things to look for when choosing a reusable bag that you’ll want to use for years to come:
If you want to use your reusable bag for years, you first have to ensure it’s up to the task! The last thing you want is for your bag to break after you’ve just loaded up on fresh veggies. Look for a bag that is made with sturdy materials, and good quality stitching with thick thread. Another good indicator is whether the bag comes with any guarantee– for example, all BEDI bags come with a lifetime guarantee, so you can be confident that they’ll last.
- Secure straps to Carry Heavy Loads
No matter how durable the material of the bag, the quality of the straps can make or break a bag– literally! Look for wider straps made of durable material, and good quality stitching attaching the strap to the bag. Plus, the wider the strap, the larger the contact area, which is not only more comfortable for the wearer, it also helps with weight distribution.
- Eco-friendly Materials
When considering the lifecycle impact of a reusable bag, it’s worth considering the sustainability of the materials. The most sustainable materials are those that are reused or upcycled, such as the deadstock regenerated nylon we use for our nylon MILE-END tote.
- A Style You’ll Actually Like and Use
Last but not least, being eco-conscious doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your personal style. Look for a bag that brings you joy, so you’ll want to reach for it regularly.