Organic cotton shopping bags have to be used 20,000 times before they're better for the Earth than plastic disposables

#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/04/15/organic-cotton-shopping-bags-h.html

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#2

Hmm, would an alternative be to not use a bag at all? One could have some sturdy bins in the trunk of the car. Do your grocery shopping, take the cart to the car and just organize your purchases in the appropriate bins/boxes.

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#3

(however, the Ministry’s analysis did not factor in marine life impacts of these bags, which are severe).

That’s a pretty damning parenthetical. Plastic is forever, and a wholesale reduction in single-use shopping bags would likely reduce harm to marine life and other ill effects to a significant degree.

Eating less meat, cycling or walking to the store, and buying locally-made grocery products are all likely to make a bigger difference in lowering your personal contribution to environmental problems.

And don’t have kids, or keep it to one if you must. Kids are a carbon bomb.

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#4

Yes, if you ignore this one specific and very obvious attribute, then this analysis holds up.

I have yet to see any socail media posts of marine mammals dying from trying to eat a fucking compostable totebag.

I hate this story.

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#5

Hey, we all love the fishies.
But if science says that the carbon generated by an organic cotton tote bag is maybe even worse for them than the plastic pollution, then you gotta listen.

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#6

Is it still okay to give up food altogether and graze on my lawn? How many shame points is that?

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#7

The post specifically points out that the impact of plastic on marine life wasn’t considered. So, no, you don’t gotta listen to something that wasn’t said.

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#8

Yeah I hate it when people talk about “environmental impact” as if it can be summed up in a single objective metric. Something can be worse in terms of short-term carbon footprint but better in terms of impact on the local biosphere. Or you could have something with very low carbon footprint (like nuclear power) that is capable of creating environmental damage for thousands of years if it’s not handled properly.

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#9

The article said that when you include such things as pesticides when you grow organic…

Since when does organic entail the use of pesticides?

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#10

Is it OK to use canvas bags that were given as swag at sf conventions?

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#11

i think organic does use pesticides. they are just organic pesticides.

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2011/06/18/137249264/organic-pesticides-not-an-oxymoron

“When people are buying organic food, they often make the incorrect assumption that there are no pesticides. It’s true that organic production often uses fewer dangerous chemicals, but certain pesticides are allowed.”

" It turns out that a key factor in chemicals being cleared for use on organic crops is whether they occur naturally. Spinosad, for example, comes from the soil bacterium Saccharopolyspora spinosa. It can fatally scramble the nervous systems of insects. It’s also poisonous to mollusks."

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#12

Hemp fiber may become an option.

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#13

Organic doesn’t mean much, usually it’s just marketing. Companies also get really good at lawyering the definition of organic, pesticides etc. If the regulations ban the use of specific pesticides they just use others that aren’t tested. That said there are still natural pesticides that can be used, perhaps some growers don’t use any pesticides at all and limit how much is used but i wouldn’t expect this to be the norm.

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#14

The plastic bags can be recycled, if that even happens. WM told me not to throw #2 plastic bags in the recycle bin because it clogs up their grinder. Also you can reuse those bags a few times. But right now here in California they charge me 10 cents for a bag so I’ll keep reusing bags (most I got as gimees from trade fairs)

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#15

The problem with organic cotton in particular is that it can only be grown in near desert conditions because otherwise the plants would not survive without pesticides, and growing such a water-intensive crop in the desert is a really bad idea for the planet and other people that need that water.

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#16

I’ll worry about that when the science tells me it’s going to happen. Seeing the lack of mass production of organic cotton bags on anywhere near the scale of poly bags, I’m more worried about reduction of the use of poly bags.

How many time do you need to use a conventional cotton bag to beat the climate impact of a poly bag? And the 3 EOL scenarios (incineration, recycling, reuse as a garbage bag) don’t account for poly bags being used as flying toilets etc. and don’t include textile bags

Recycling of textiles was not taken into account since it mainly occurs outside the Danish waste management system, for example via charity organizations or through return schemes at retailer shops. The extent of recovery of materials can be extremely variable according to the specific collection selected, and the quality of the material collected.

The main point that bothers me about this story is that the only headline I’ve heard is “it takes 20k uses of a cotton bag to beat a poly bag” which is not true.

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#17

That’s exactly right, and it’s one of the reasons organic isn’t necessarily better for the environment. Better for the people who do the work, perhaps in some cases. But the benefits don’t get translated to the consumer.

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#18

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#19

20,001 is the goal then?

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#20

Why do people everywhere think that their plastic bags will end up in the ocean? I get that you see them on the sidewalk but the ocean trash island patch is from the countries that dump all their trash in the river / ocean, not from that one time when you were 12 and swallowed your gum

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