Tag Archives: cotton bags

Small green victories

Some years ago I started making fabric bags for Christmas in the hopes of cutting down on waste. Given the land and water requirements for growing cotton, this only works if people re-use the bags – if they are thrown away, it is far more wasteful than using paper. You do need to re-use cotton a lot for it to offset what it took to grow the material in the first place. However, cotton isn’t putting out microplastics and wrapping paper often has too much plastic in it to be recyclable. The huge amount of paper used for festive wrapping and then sent to landfill definitely isn’t sustainable.

I think cotton bags can serve an extra function in that they can become a sustainability reminder built into the festivities. They don’t invite you to buy throwaway, single use presents or anything in a lot of packaging. fabric bags also remove the temptation for extra plastic decoration in the form of bows and whatnot.

The photo above was taken on Christmas day. Those are all bags I made in previous years, that came back to me this year. Several of them with stories about having been sent on to other people and then sent back again. They’re being used. We did not end up with a bin bag full of rubbish this year, which has happened in previous years.

It’s not entirely straightforward – most things aren’t – but this year felt like a substantial move towards having less waste and keeping usable things in circulation. The bags also make wrapping easy, sparing people the investment of time and energy in wrapping.