• PrintMag

Too Many Totes?


Can there be too much of a good thing? Like, totes? There may not yet be an environmental impact survey on the proliferation of canvas or polypropylene tote bags, but the sheer number of them according to the Daily Heller Data Research Institute has increased one-hundred fold over the past year.

In fact, they’ve been the give-away of choice for the past couple of years:

But well-meaning companies and consumers are finding that shopping bags, like biofuels, are another area where it’s complicated to go green,” noted the Wall Street Journal back in 2008. “If you don’t reuse them, you’re actually worse off by taking one of them,” says Bob Lilienfeld, author of the Use Less Stuff Report, an online newsletter about waste prevention. And because many of the bags are made from heavier material, they’re also likely to sit longer in landfills than their thinner, disposable cousins, according to Ned Thomas, who heads the department of material science and engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

When used correctly, totes can reduce the number of plastic bags destined for landfills. The Wall Street Journal notes that four to five reusable bags can replace 520 plastic bags a year. Totes are proliferating at such high speed, however, that they just may be a potential blight. The BYOB fashion could have unintended consequences.

What do you think about totes: Environmental boon or blight?



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