An organic cotton bag must be reused 20,000 times so that its environmental impact is less than a plastic one

An organic cotton bag must be reused 20,000 times so that its environmental impact is less than a plastic one

There are environmental decisions that are more posture than useful , such as replacing plastic straws with paper straws (in reality, straws only represent 0.025% of the plastic consumed by the United States, the leading country in this regard) .

Other greener solutions, moreover, may even be more polluting than their traditional counterparts. Depending on what we are measuring in terms of environmental impact, then a cloth bag is more polluting than a plastic bag .

More useful to reuse regardless of the material

Specifically, an organic cotton bag is 20,000 times more polluting than a plastic bag . In other words, it is much more effective to reuse the bags rather than switch to other materials (which can also be more dangerous at the health level).


The table estimates how many uses were necessary throughout the life of a bag to equal the "accumulated environmental impact" (emissions, water use, energy use, etc.) of plastic bags. Result: 45 for polypropylene, 84 for recycled polyethylene terephthalate, 35 for polyester, 43 for paper, 7,100 for conventional cotton and 20,000 for organic cotton .

Producing 1 kg of cotton fabric requires more than 40,000 liters of water on average, greater than that of any vegetable and even most meats.

In other words: it would be infinitely more effective to do pedagogy (and perhaps a little more resistant plastic bags) to encourage reuse, but without demonizing any material, particularly plastic . The impact of a material is not self-explanatory. Use a cloth bag; Well, it could be the best, but also the worst. It all depends on the use.

To all this is added, in addition, sanitary problems : cotton is a material that can be colonized by pathogenic microorganisms , so it should not come into direct contact with food, and it should be washed as often and at the same temperature as cotton. kitchen towels.

Corollary: making environmentally sustainable decisions is much more difficult than it seems, and they must also change over time, depending on the circumstances . They should be decisions that go beyond signaling virtue or fashion or cool. And, above all, its real impact must be taken into account: every time you take a flight you are producing the equivalent of 100,000 plastic bottles. Something that you should keep in mind every time you stop using a plastic bottle but still decide to go on vacation.