These days, everyone wants to do his or her part for the environment. As consumers become more conscious of their efforts to maintain our planet’s health, businesses are increasingly joining the cause. An important matter of discussion recently has been the debate over shopping bags. Many businesses have begun to use the bags they provide to customers to showcase their commitment to waste issues and important environmental causes. To this end, quality, environmentally-friendly custom shopping bags are becoming more and more popular among businesses seeking to expand their brand while also connecting to customers via social activism.
Environmental Impacts of the Different Varieties of Shopping Bags
There are many matters of debate between the different styles of shopping bags. Perhaps the largest debate is that of the carbon footprint, or environmental impact, of the different bag options. A common, long-standing belief is that plastic bags are the least environmentally friendly option. Some environmental advocates have even suggested that businesses should use cotton or paper bags instead. Many recent studies have now come forward to dispute this argument and, in fact, propose plastic bags have the least impact on the environment out of all of the available options.
Why plastic bags? Why not paper bags? It actually takes a great deal of energy to convert wood into paper in the first place. This process creates 12 million tons of solid waste per year alone. When a recycled good is cheaper or weaker than the original product, it’s known as down-cycling (or downstream recycling). Recycled paper contains ink residue and has shorter fibers than paper made from wood pulp. It therefore may be less desirable for some purposes, such as copy machine paper. Paper can only be down-cycled so far until it is essentially unusable. Each step in this process, meanwhile, commits more energy, in the form of greenhouse gases, to the creation of these recycled products. On top of this, The NRDC estimates that we recycle only 30% of our recyclable goods. In the end, paper grocery bags create an enormous amount of initial and continuing waste through their production and use.
Even reusable cotton custom shopping bags create a larger carbon footprint than plastic bags. The growth of cotton requires a great deal of land space, water, energy, fertilizer and pesticides. The UK EPA estimates that, in order for a cotton bag to make up the difference in its carbon footprint compared to plastic, it must be reused 131 times.
The creation of plastic shopping bags uses the smallest amount of resources due to their lighter weight and simpler construction. Furthermore, the bags can be reused multiple times, allowing for a longer life span. Even when it is time to throw the plastic bag away, their lighter weight when compared to their cotton or paper counterparts means that it requires fewer trucks and less gasoline to transport and process the plastic bags. Overall, plastic bags are quite possibly one of the least harmful choices when considering ease of reuse and overall environmental impact from creation to landfill.
Still not sure? Now, it is also possible to combine the biodegradable benefits of paper and cotton bags with the reduced resource consumption and lighter weight of plastic bags. ANS Plastics Corp is happy to introduce Bio Bags, biodegradable custom shopping bags that can fragment and decompose in as little as 360 hours.
Plastic Bag Reuse
Current trends encourage reusing materials in innovative ways; plastic bags are no exception to this trend. It is estimated that 76 percent of plastic shopping bags were reused at least once. By finding new, innovative and fun ways to reuse plastic bags, many consumers are further extending the life of the lowest-impact shopping bag available.
Today, recycling efforts in the United States divert 32 percent of waste away from landfills. That prevents more than 60 million tons (54.432 million metric tons) of garbage from ending up in landfills every year.
Some new creative uses for plastic bags are:
- Creating “Plarn” and crocheting new items from plastic bags, even new tote bags to take shopping
- Keep in glove compartments to use on road trips
- Donate them to food pantries or hospitals to use
- Use as packing insulation when moving or in suitcases
- Protect a table during arts and crafts
- Place unripe fruit in the bag, they will ripen faster in a closed bag
- Waterproof covers for homemade ice packs
How do you reuse your plastic bags? We would love to know your ideas. Send us an email telling us your creative use for plastic bags.
Brand Recognition and Social Activism
A great way to encourage the green movement and increase brand recognition is to put an environmental message onto custom shopping bags. Brand recognition is an incredibly important part of promotion, and by emblazoning the bags customers take home with them (and perhaps reuse), you ensure that your brand will be exposed to many people in the bag’s lifetime. By coupling an environmental message with the most environmentally friendly bags available, businesses can show that they care for the environment while meeting their customers’ needs. It is a great way to blend social activism with good marketing practices.
Aside from traditional brand and logo marketing, 90% of global business executives recognize social media as an important outlet for marketing. Your grocery bags can connect consumers directly to a broader online presence. By affixing a short hashtag or slogan on your custom shopping bags, you can connect your current and prospective customers on a stronger level through simple brand recognition.
It is important, now more than ever, to stay on the cutting edge of important topics for consumers. Businesses that are in tune with their customers’ needs and interests are rewarded with increased patronage and brand longevity. As the environmental myth surrounding plastic bags is beginning to be challenged, more and more businesses are moving forward in environmentally friendly directions.
Custom shopping bags are a great way to show your customers that you are progressive in action while also taking care of a basic consumer need for your business.
Would you like to know more about our bags and pricing options? Send us an email, we would be happy to give you a custom quote on your new shopping bags.