• Are You Ready to Ban the Bag? Our Best Plastic Free Reusable Bags

    Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria have joined South Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania, and the ACT in a ban on the supply of single use lightweight plastic shopping bags. The ban has been introduced to reduce the impact of plastic pollution on our environment and especially on our marine life. We’re so excited to see retailers take action against single use plastic waste, and catching up with what the Biome community has been so passionate about since our beginning in 2003.

    With the ban upon us, it’s time to invest in reusable shopping bags (and remember to take them with us!), however, not all reusable shopping bags are the same. Some of the ‘eco friendly’, heavy duty plastic bags and ‘green’ bags are just as bad for the environment as single use plastic bags.

    The best reusable bags to choose are those that are made from 100% natural fibres, like jute, organic cotton or another plant fibre. Here we aim to outline why certain types of reusable bags are more eco friendly than others, and the best plastic free reusable bags to choose.

    The Reusable Bags to Avoid

    According to the Queensland Government, the aim of the plastic bag ban is to reduce the impact of plastic pollution on our environment and marine life. As well as their environmental impacts, littered plastic shopping bags are unsightly, can clog up infrastructure, and are difficult and costly to clean up (1).

    Most supermarkets, including Woolworths, Coles and Aldi, will supply thicker, heavy duty plastic bags that are designed to be reused. They also sell reusable ‘green’ bags, named so as they tend to be the colour green, not because they are particularly environmentally friendly. ‘Green’ bags are actually made from polypropylene (plastic number 5) and are quite resource intensive to produce. In fact studies suggest you would need to use the bag at least 104 times for them to have a positive impact on the environment (2). That equates to weekly for two years, but how many of us have had ‘green’ bags break well before then?

    Supermarkets also sell reusable bags made from jute, but did you know the jute bags sold at supermarkets are often lined with plastic? This means, like single use plastic bags, heavy duty plastic bags, and ‘green’ bags, they will never decompose if they end up in our environment or landfill. All of these bag types will simply disintegrate into smaller and smaller pieces, and continue to pose a threat to marine life and other animals, not to mention look unsightly, clog infrastructure and remain costly to clean up if they end up in our environment.

    So what are the best reusable bags to choose? The answer is plastic free reusable bags, and below are our top picks.

    The Best Plastic Free Reusable Bags

    Real green bags made from jute

    Biome Eco Stores | Are You Ready to Ban the Bag | Our Best Plastic Free Reusable Bags | #BanTheBag

    Biome’s ‘real green’ bags are made from 100% jute. They are not lined with plastic and do not contain any petrochemicals. These bags are strong and sturdy, and will last a very long time. Plus at the end of their life, they will biodegrade and return to the earth.

    You can find them here >

    As most jute is produced in Bangladesh, Biome has ensured these plastic free reusable bags are ethically sourced through BRAC, an NGO that supports the livelihood of over 70% of Bangladesh’s population through social, health and education programs.

    Organic cotton shopping bags

    Biome Eco Stores | Are You Ready to Ban the Bag | Our Best Plastic Free Reusable Bags | #BanTheBag

    Our large organic cotton shopping bags are durable and comfortable to hold. We particularly love the Green Essentials reusable organic cotton canvas shopping bag as it has inbuilt compartments on the inner side to protect long, delicate items such as celery. It also holds bottles upright, and keeps them separate so they don’t squash other items. Genius! This plastic free reusable bag is 100% GOTS organic certified.

    You can find it here >

    Organic cotton reusable produce bags

    Biome Eco Stores | Are You Ready to Ban the Bag | Our Best Plastic Free Reusable Bags | #BanTheBag

    Go one step further to reduce single use plastic waste and switch to reusable produce bags too! Keep these with your reusable shopping bags in a convenient place so you never forget to bring them with you.

    Biome’s organic cotton reusable produce bag set is made up of five lightweight, durable produce bags made from 100% certified organic cotton. It includes two small mesh bags, one medium solid bag and two large solid bags. They are perfect for collecting fruit, vegetables, nuts and bulk goods instead of using single use plastic bags.

    Find them here >

    Organic cotton reusable bread bags

    Biome Eco Stores | Are You Ready to Ban the Bag | Our Best Plastic Free Reusable Bags | #BanTheBag

    Have you mastered reusable shopping bags and reusable produce bags? Add a reusable bread bag to the mix!

    Biome’s breathable organic cotton bread bag is ideal to transport and store fresh bread from the bakery. By opting for a reusable bread bag, not only do you save on single use plastic packaging and those pesky plastic bread bag clips, but you can help support your local bakery.

    Find our bread bag here >

    Organic cotton string bags

    Biome Eco Stores | Are You Ready to Ban the Bag | Our Best Plastic Free Reusable Bags | #BanTheBag

    Tap into your retro sensibilities with a string bag that will have you reminiscing about your childhood. This was the go-to bag for parents of a certain age, made from lightweight organic cotton mesh that can be rolled up and kept in your handbag or glove box. Use it for carrying groceries, produce and to take to the markets.

    Biome’s organic cotton string bag is GOTS certified and also supports the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

    You can find it here >

    Organic cotton string backpack

    Biome Eco Stores | Are You Ready to Ban the Bag | Our Best Plastic Free Reusable Bags | #BanTheBag

    Similar to the string carry bag above, but made from hard wearing jute, this backpack style string bag is ergonomically designed to help protect your back and shoulders.

    This is a great bag to take to the markets, but it can also be used for sports and beach gear, picnics and more. It features a closely woven bottom so nothing slips out underneath.

    The ‘Big Suzie’ backpack style string bag is handmade by Bangladeshi rural artisans who earn a fair trade living. It is biodegradable at the end of its life.

    You can find all of our reusable shopping bags here >

    Making the switch to reusable bags is a great step to take to reduce the impact of plastic pollution on our environment and marine life. The plastic free reusable bags sold at Biome are the better choice, as they are strong, durable, ethically made and can be returned to the earth at the end of their life. And remember you can recycle your single use plastic bags, plastic bread bags, and ‘green’ bags through RedCycle.

    Note: Some plastic free reusable bags have tags that are not biodegradable. Please remove these non-biodegradable components be you return the bag to the earth.

    Further Reading

    (1) https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/management/waste/plastic-bags

    (2) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-24/war-on-waste-what-bags-to-use/8528350

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