Plastic bags are taking a beating by the public these days and a few forward thinking companies are trying to come up with better alternatives.
The impetus for creating “green” alternatives comes from good intentions and a lot of our competitors are small start up companies, trying to make their self-employed dreams come true and do something good for the environment at the same time.
The problem is 90% of the reusable bags we see out there are not much better than plastic bags. The reusable bags are made from petroleum fuel stocks, do not function as well as the conventional plastic bags that they are supposed to replace, and just like plastic bags, are pollutants and contaminates in their disposal phase.
Let’s walk through a few of our green washing competitor fabrics and make things clear:
Polyester Mesh Bags:
Mesh produce / bulk bags – whether they are polyester or nylon are basically a façade of a reusable bag and add very little value. They don’t replace plastic bags if you can’t conveniently carry home or store your food items in them. So basically they are more of a burden on the environment to produce than single-use plastic bags because they don’t fulfill any many functions.
Why do we think that they're so bad?
Production of polyester cannot be sustained indefinitely because the raw material, oil, is a non-renewable resource, which will, in time, run out.
The manufacturing process involves high energy inputs which, unless sourced from renewable energy, generate large amounts of particulates, CO2, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, sulphur oxides and carbon monoxide subsequently released as atmospheric emissions . Polyester production requires approximately ten times more energy than Organic Cotton and currently emits four times as much CO2. However, the overall best performer between cotton, hemp, and polyester in the Ecological Footprint context is Traditional Organic Hemp.
Major water-borne emissions from polyester production include dissolved solids, acids, iron and ammonia .
Toxic Chemicals used in the production of polyester are
Antimony: 80 – 85% of all polyester produced uses antimony as a catalyst.
Ethylene Glycol: In the United States alone, an estimated 1 billion lbs of spent Ethylene Glycol (a raw material in PET production) is generated each year.
Nylon requires the most energy of all fibers to create.
The cartoon this page is from a great source of information on green washing Our Breathing Planet.com