What Are the Disadvantages of Reuseable Bags?

bag with the tool image by Victor M. from Fotolia.com

Because reusable bags don't have to be discarded after just one or two outings, they are a naturally eco-friendly choice. Though they are far more durable than paper or plastic bags, each type of reusable bag has disadvantages that consumers should keep in mind when they shop for and use these products.

Polypropylene Bags

These are thick plastic bags that are made from recycled or new polypropylene (a type of plastic). They are lower quality than many reusable cloth bags and can wear out over time. Additionally, polypropylene bags that are not made from recycled materials, such as disposable plastic bags, are manufactured from crude oil and are resource-intensive to produce.

Jute Bags

Jute is a soft vegetable fibre that is spun to create durable, long threads. Another name for jute is hessian. Though jute bags are strong, they can't hold moist substances and won't handle leaks well because jute is not a very water-resistant material.

Many crops that produce jute are not organic, so they are grown and harvested with pesticides or other harmful chemical materials. In many cases, jute is not spun near to bag manufacturers, so the carbon footprint resulting from transporting or importing jute bags is significant. These bags can also be more expensive than their polypropylene or cotton counterparts.

Calico, Canvas and Cotton Bags

Calico bags are made of a type of cotton that is not completely refined. It's unbleached and generally uses fewer resources and chemicals to produce. Albury Enviro Bags cautions that calico requires a huge amount of water and pesticides to produce unless it is organically grown. Like jute, it is not moisture-resistant, and it's also more expensive than repurposed plastic bags. Cotton and canvas bags have the same disadvantages, but since they are more refined and processed than calico, each uses even more resources to produce.

Hemp Bags

Green Living Tips points out that hemp bags are more expensive and harder to come by than other reusable bags. This is because governments are often unwilling to grant approval for farmers to grow hemp commercially due to the plant's negative associations with marijuana. Because most hemp products are imported, they use a greater amount of greenhouse gases through transportation procedures than reusable bags that are produced domestically.