Sustainability Paradox

Some years ago, plastic bag got tagged along with us every time we do our grocery shopping. This later got replaced with paper bags, reusable bags and other alternatives. At some grocery stores that I have been to, plastic bags cost more than the paper bags, which makes the eco-friendly switch easier.

While I was happy with the alternatives that help to curb the plastic use, I was stuck in a paradox as I thought about this entire grocery bag ecosystem.

Which is more sustainable: a plastic bag or a cotton bag?
Image source: Earthbits

Let’s get this straight : Be it a plastic bag or a cotton reusable bag, every such commodity has a carbon footprint. 1 plastic bag generates about 33 grams of co2, whereas a cotton bag generates about 4 kg of co2! Also a paper bag has 3 times the carbon footprint of a plastic bag. A fine example of a Sustainability Paradox.

We notice cotton tote bags everywhere around us these days. As Susan Ruffo, a plastic expert says “we have a history as a species of solving one problem with great intensity, only to figure out that we’ve created another one.”
To put that into a perspective, the cotton bags are to be used more than 100 times for it to offset their carbon cost. There is no positive impact in buying the cotton bags frequently assuming it to be a smart choice as this does more harm than the single-use plastic bags. We need to pick on our alternatives wisely.

Bottom line: Opting for reusable bags is way better than single-use bags, only if we re-used them as much as possible ♻️

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle | Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Image source :

This made me remember my childhood memories back in India, where my grandma (also my uncle) used to carry a cotton bag every time she went out for buying groceries. She effortlessly re-used & recycled different commodities/produce. Their day to day sustainable, eco-friendly and economical methods are worth taking note of. 🌱

#GrandmaProTip: The cotton bags needn’t be washed after every use. You will know when the bag requires a wash. 😉 This helps with the durability of the bag as well.

UK study on Supermarket bags , Nytimes , Npr , euronews

Published by Aishwarya Bhargav

I would like to remind myself that I am a guest in this world. The purpose of my existence is to observe things around me without getting affected by them and moving on.

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