I just had coffee with a girlfriend who mentioned her friend who “collects” canvas bags, so I found this post from Design Observer discussing the usage of canvas vs. plastic shopping bags particularly interesting. Dmitri Siegal states “The environmental promise of reusable bags becomes pretty dubious when there are closets and drawers full of them in every home… Judging by the cost, producing one tote is roughly equivalent to producing 400 plastic bags. That’s fine if you actually use the tote 400 times, but what if you just end up with 40 totes in your closet? Once the emphasis shifts from reusing a bag to having a bag that reflects your status or personality, the environmental goal starts drifting out of sight… The best thing for the environment is reuse and that can be accomplished just as easily by reusing plastic bags.”
Kudos to Design Observer for clearly stating the importance of not only conserving if not eliminating your usage of plastic “disposable” bags, but also to be aware that it takes energy and materials to make other more durable bags as well.
Of course, I’m an anti-clutter addict, so having 40 canvas totes would be enough to drive me crazy, but it makes me think about the other items in my home and life that I accumulate and the impact both their production and storage have on my well-being and their overall impact on the environment.
Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Design Observer.