“Oh that tote bag is amazing!”

“I need one, where is it from?”.

We are all guilty of saying it but tell me, how many reuseable bags do you own? 10? 20? More?!

The moment I realised I had totes too many bags!

We have become so accustomed to buying canvas bags because they are cute and after all they are eco friendly, aren’t they? I’d say I easily have 20+. Many have come as free gifts or given to me free when shopping, I’m sure if you look at your stash it will be much the same.

When the plastic bag ban came into N.Ireland in 2011 we all stocked up on reuseable plastic bags and felt honourable when we bought a canvas one because it would last us longer. But tote bags come with a dark secret.


With the ban in place, plastic bag sales fell massively by 94% which is great but only if we actually use our reuseables to their full potential. Did you know the average cotton bag is estimated to need over 7,000 uses before it’s better than using a plastic one?

That’s not a typo. I said 7,000. I was shocked when I read a table from a study completed by Denmark’s ministry of environment and food and seen this as the result. In fact, organic cotton bags came out even worse needing 20,000 uses. It’s a horrifying realisation but not shocking when we already know how bad our clothes are for the environment.

In short the best bag to use for our shopping is the one we already own. It doesn’t matter if it’s a plastic bag for life, a polyester reuseable or a cotton tote. The simple fact is we need to avoid the temptation of buying the latest cute new unessential bag hanging up by the tills in store.

So while you have some time on your hands, go find your canvas tote bags, your bags for life and any other type of bag you have. Pop them in the back of your car, in your handbag and anywhere else you feel will encourage you to remember to use them so you need never need buy another bag again.

If you do however fancy a new one or want to make one for a friend, there are some great tutorials out there on pinterest, many of which don’t even require you to sew! Next time you find a t-shirt looking a bit sorry for itself, give it a try. Or if you are feeling super adventurous you could learn a bit of furoshiki and make your own… in fact, I might put a tutorial up soon to show you how!

The perfect lunch bag – you can fold away or wear it when you are done

Emmy x

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5 Comments

  1. I am chuffed to bits to have found you ! So many many points of empowerment for us and the planet . Thank you !

    1. Author

      So glad you enjoyed the blog post Sheila! Hopefully we can keep coming up with more content to inspire people to use what they have an implement less wasteful changes into their lifestyle x


  2. Hi Emmy, what a great post! How refreshing to read some good old common sense around some insightful analysis. Any bags (or other household items) you already own are a “sunk cost”. Ditching them for something greener won’t undo their creation in the first place. Keep them, use them until they wear out and then buy more sustainable replacements. Anyone who thinks a greener lifestyle means throwing out what you’ve already purchased is missing the point. Same goes for pouring wine/vodka/gin down the plughole – drink it and then consider going tee-total!

    1. Author

      lol, unless they are an alcoholic… then I fully appreciate them throwing the drink down the sink. But yes, in general we need to use all we have up before buying more. My stash of cosmetics and toiletries are shockingly big – I’m spending 2020 refusing to buy any new items unless I have no alternatives left to use! Thanks for swinging by x

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