A nonwoven polypropylene bag, for example, would have to be used just 11 times to make up for the negative effects of a plastic bag used one time, according to a British Environment Agency study that compared bags. A cotton bag, however, would have to be used 131 times.
(Article over on Mother Nature Network)
Y'all know my hatred of plastic bags. I prefer to use self checkouts whenever possible, simply because I don't have to tell the clerk 5,000 times that I have my own bags! It's not something "trendy" for me, but rather a lifestyle change that I got into back into college. It's a lot easier to carry a cloth bag of groceries home when you're walking everywhere, rather than a plastic bag that tears easily!
Anyways, I went and counted my collection of re-useable bags. I have 33! A good sized chunk I have received for free, and have logos from the company or brand on them. I have many that I have purchased on my own, too, and even a couple I've reviewed on the blog.
For me, many of these bags have different functions. Two of the bags have special slots in them to carry home wine bottles so they don't break easily, for instance. There's a super sturdy cotton canvas one that I have had since college that I use when I am purchasing canned food - I can stack 12-20 cans in it, and it won't rip! There are bags that roll up into small balls that I keep in my purse for when I am shopping in stores like Goodwill.... bags that are for the library and when I take outgrown items to Half Price Books... and then of course, the bags I use for grocery shopping. This is another reason why I like to use self checkouts - some of those bags are very easily washable, so those are the ones I use to put meat in. A clerk doesn't know the difference, and will just put whatever in whichever one they grab first.
And of course, there's a few I never really use - but I'm not exactly going to throw them away. Handles break, they could be called into action if I have to take something to a kiddo related outing, and I'm not entirely sure I'll see my bag(s) back, for instance.
So for those of you with lots of re-usable bags - do you have a set pattern with them? Or do they just collect dust for the most part? If they are, may I suggest you give them to a local food bank, who in turn can fill food with them, or take them to a local library that sells used books - there are folks that buy a ton of books at one time, and these reuseable bags can be a lot sturdier than a plastic grocery bag.