Being attractively simple in design, like a blank canvas, there is no lack of cotton tote bags with creative designs for sale in the market. In fact, cotton tote bags are also popular as corporate gifts and event goodie bags. So is it better for the environment with more people buying and switching to cotton bags? It depends. According to a study by UKEA, a cotton tote bag is more environmentally friendly than a plastic bag only if you use it more than 327 times, given that the carbon footprint emitted by the manufacturing process of a cotton tote is significantly higher than that of a plastic bag. This means that even if I use the cotton bags every weekend for shopping, that is still only 104 uses/days in a year. More than 3 years of uninterrupted weekend usage is required before the carbon footprint of the tote bag production can be offset and made comparable to a HDPE plastic bag. I am not sure if the cotton bags can last that long, but as this article readily pointed out, the ironical thing about cotton totes is that ‘people don’t actually use them.’
Besides having quite a few that I use regularly for grocery shoppings, I also try to use the well-made cotton tote bags stamped with corporate logos more often than they sit in the storeroom. This can be done by jazzing them up a little to look slightly less like a freebie and more like something from Etsy, with a few embroidery stitches here and some embellishments there.
Cotton tote bags function really well as a weekend carryall tote if you are blessed with a perfect size one like these below. Luckily, this makeover project is not too tedious given the subtlety of the corporate logo. I’m sure you can tell where the company logo used to be. And I managed to keep the rest of the original silkscreen motifs intact which I like very much. And off they go towards 327 days of usage, hopefully, more.