Jute Bag or Cotton Bags – Buyer’s Guide

Published On December 31, 2009

In a boxing match between jute bags and cotton bags, the pre-match stats don’t give much indication of a clear winner! They both have awesome green credentials – jute’s are more on the social responsibility side, while organic cotton is better for the planet. There are some incidental positives for jute which will matter for some applications, but not others. Overall, they’re pretty even! Here we explore the benefits of jute bags and the benefits of organic cotton bags.

The benefits of jute

Jute bags have an innate strength that organic cotton, being softer and thinner, doesn’t match.

Although jute production is quite labour intensive, it is produced in the countries of the world where the cost of living is lowest. This means that jute bags are quite cheap. In fact, it is the cheapest vegetable fiber to be produced from a plant’s stem or ‘bas’. When compared with the cost of lightweight cotton bags however, the production costs and freight costs are higher for jute bags. But compared to the costs of heavier grades of cotton canvas though, jute bags are more economical.

Social responsibility
As we mentioned, most jute is grown in poor countries – Bangladesh, India and Thailand are the primary producers. It is also very labour intensive to grow, and not suitable for mechanical harvesting, therefore jute production supports a huge number of small farmers in Third World countries.

Natural fibre
Jute, like cotton, is a completely natural fiber. Natural jute bags are completely biodegradable and compostable so in effect, after their useful life has expired, they may complete their life cycle in the soil and enhance soil fertility. For this reason jute bags have a very low environmental footprint.

Environmentally friendly growing practices
Many of the farmers that grow jute do not use chemicals, and cultivate it in areas where it grows naturally. It is rare that a tree is cut down to plant jute in its place, and there is little chemical load placed on the soil by growing the fibres for jute bags.

UV Protective
If your goods are light-sensitive, jute bags are a more UV protective option than organic cotton bags. This also makes jute good for clothing production!

Insulation from heat
While jute bags certainly won’t match deliberately insulated cooler bags for temperature control, they do offer a cost effective solution for minimizing the heat your goods are exposed to. Butchers and greengrocers often enjoy this benefit of jute bags.

The benefits of organic cotton
Completely natural
Organic cotton is just as natural as jute!

Cotton is much softer than jute – jute bags have a sense of earthiness and more than a touch of texturing – although they are far from the hessian bags that potatoes are sold in! This might contribute to their reuse potential – and may mean that you get more marketing value per dollar spent on promotional bags.

Environmentally friendly growing practices
Conventional cotton farming, as distinct from organic cotton farming, is incredibly wasteful. Organic cotton farming though, by principle, makes as little environmental impact as possible. Organic cotton can only be grown in areas that are environmentally compatible with the plant, so that only natural insecticides and fertilizers can be used. Buying organic cotton bags is a good way to support a burgeoning industry that could have a real impact on the health of the Earth.

Reuse potential
The softness and feel of cotton bags means that people are happier to re-use them, and your business gets more ‘word of mouth’ exposure and marketing value per dollar.

Jute bags are not always washable. Many are lined with plastic so they can be wiped out, but organic cotton bags do have an advantage in the washability stakes. This also contributes to the re-use potential.