Should You Replace Your Plastic Shopping Bags with Canvas?

Plastic shopping bags have been a staple in daily life around the world. They’re cheap to produce, aren’t too easy to rip when you’re lugging loads of groceries, and of course, they’re what most stores have handed out freely to customers since they got popular.

However, the eco-friendly push has been making plastic bags a bit of a hot topic, and many consumers are transitioning to reusable canvas options. Well, how do canvas bags stack up against plastic options? Should you make that transition to help reduce pollution? Are the bags good, or are they too much hassle to warrant switching?

Let’s compare the two side-by-side in three categories to see which one comes out on top.

1: Price

This is one that will change depending on where you shop. Many stores have started charging for plastic bags as a way to discourage their use, but just as many still hand them out freely in unlimited numbers as a service to customers. If the plastic bag is free where you shop, it automatically wins this category. Just keep in mind that nothing is truly free and that “free” bag has been building up a hefty price over the course of decades.

It’s a little fairer if we look at the stores that are charging for them. Most stores are charging about ten cents per bag. So, even if you go on a particularly large shopping trip, you’ll probably only end up paying about a dollar for bags. In comparison, a canvas shopping bag can cost twice that per bag.

However, you cannot look at that initial cost and call it a day. The canvas bags will last for years. Let’s assume you spend twenty dollars buying 10 canvas shopping bags to cover even your biggest grocery trips. You can go on hundreds, if not thousands, of trips with those bags and not have to buy another. With plastic, you’ll be paying that “low price” of a dollar every single trip. That adds up.

2: Durability

In this category, the winner is clear. Yes, plastic bags do a decent job of not ripping as long as you don’t overload them, but how many times have you shattered jars or busted open jugs because one gave out?

With canvas, that’s not a problem. The cheap grocery bags aren’t as thick as a fashion canvas bag, but they’re still way stronger than plastic. The weakest point tends to be where the handles are stitched on. So, just buy decent bags with well-crafted handles, and you’ll never worry about a busted bag again.

3: Water Resistance

Some groceries are wet. Meat packs can have condensation on them, cold liquids such as milk can get condensation on the inside of your bag, etc. Paper bags can weaken and break because of that, but luckily, both plastic bags and canvas bags are pretty much immune to it.

You do need to dry your canvas bags if they get wet, but there’s no reason to worry about them weakening unless you just sit them in a mud puddle and let them rot out over the span of weeks.

Canvas Wins

Canvas bags are clearly the better option. In the long run, they’re cheaper. They’re also stronger, and they don’t really have any downsides to them. Yeah, you’ll have to bring them into the store with you, but is that really a heavy price to pay? We don’t think so.