The Pros and Cons of Different Reusable Bag Materials: Which is Right for You?

Published On March 1, 2024
Do you regularly find yourself in the checkout lane, your cart or basket piled high, having to take on new, unsustainable plastic bags to carry your shopping?

Maybe you’ve always been curious about finding better options for your reusable, foldable shopping bags, but feel so overwhelmed with the myriad of options available?

We understand, and to help you out, we have compiled the ultimate guide to make your shopping trips a breeze. In this article, our experts at Albury Enviro Bags aim to dissect what materials reusable shopping bags are made of, from the hessian foldable shopping bags to the quaint drawstring cotton bags that are all the rage in sustainable shopping circles.

Understanding the Basics: What Materials are Reusable
Tote Bags Made Out Of?

Interested in upping your eco-game by using reusable tote bags? Great! As only 3% of plastic bags are recycled in Australia, every person who switches to reusable bags will make a huge difference. To fully harness the power of your environment-friendly efforts, you must understand the materials used to make these useful companions.

Calico & Cotton

Both materials are soft, extremely lightweight and breathable. They are ideal for producing sturdy, durable and foldable shopping bags. Cotton is known for its soft texture and high absorbency, making it a good choice for drawstring shopping bags designed to carry fresh produce.


Looking for a rougher, more heavy-duty material? Canvas tote bags are immensely durable and great for carrying heavier loads. Part of their charm lies in the fact that they are easily washable, too, further adding to their sustainability quotient.

Hemp & Biodegradable

Hemp and biodegradable materials are another fantastic eco-friendly choice when it comes to reusable bags. Hemp, for one, is resistant to mould and UV light – plus, hemp crops are remarkably sustainable, using little water and no pesticides. On the other hand, biodegradable bags are designed to break down naturally, thus leaving minimal impact on the environment, even if they end up in natural ecosystems.

Jute & Juco

Jute materials are also the favourite choices of eco-conscious consumers. Raw jute is a strong, natural fibre that, like cotton, is fully bio-degradable and compostable. Mixed with cotton, it forms ‘Juco’, a smoother, finer blend that allows for more detailed and finer print finishes.

Non-Woven Polypropylene

Non-woven polypropylene is a kind of plastic that’s affordable, lightweight, strong, and moisture-resistant. Bags made from this material can last years and are easy to wipe clean, but they are not typically recyclable in curbside programs, which can be a drawback for some.

Advantages of Reusable Shopping Bags

Reusable shopping bags, whether they’re foldable shopping bags or drawstring cotton bags, offer a slew of advantages for consumers over single-use plastic bags, including:
  • Reduction in Waste: Reusable bags can be used multiple times, significantly reducing the volume of bag waste finding its way into our environment.
  • Conservation of Resources: The production of plastic bags consumes substantial resources and energy. Switching to reusable bags helps conserve these resources and reduces carbon emissions.
  • Durability: Made from sturdy materials like canvas or jute, reusable bags are built to last and can carry heavier loads without the risk of tearing.
  • Reusable Bags are Recyclable: Unlike traditional plastic bags that can take hundreds of years to decompose, many reusable bags, when they reach the end of their lifespan, can be recycled into new products.
  • Economic Efficiency: Although the initial cost can seem higher, the long-term savings of reusable bags for your shopping needs can add up over time (one reusable bag can replace up to 1000 single-use plastic bags).

Getting Down to Business: Benefits for Companies
Embracing Reusable Bag Materials

Businesses can also reap several benefits from choosing environmentally friendly reusable bags over their disposable kind:
  • Brand Exposure: Reusable bags – be they foldable shopping bags or drawstring cotton bags – can serve as moving advertisements. Every time someone carries your branded bag, your business gets exposed to a new audience.
  • Cuts down costs: With reusable shopping bags, businesses can significantly reduce the costs traditionally associated with providing single-use bags. In the long run, investing in reusable bags Australia-wide can lead to savings.
  • Eco-friendly Image: By offering sustainable bag options, your company will demonstrate a commitment to environmental responsibility. This not only attracts like-minded customers but also helps your ventures become a green business.
  • Customisation and Versatility: Reusable bag materials are easy to customise, offering a unique customer experience. You can easily print your logo, slogan, or a catchy design, turning the bag into a unique piece representing your brand.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Providing customers with a durable,\ reusable shopping bag can increase their satisfaction. They value the extra utility these bags offer compared to the single-use options.

Potential Concerns with Reusable Tote Bags

As with every product, reusable tote bags also come with a set of considerations. Let’s dig into some of the potential concerns associated with these eco-friendly alternatives:
  • Durability and Cleaning: These bags can show signs of wear and tear with regular use and periodic washing. Bacteria can be a concern, especially when used for groceries.
  • Cost Factors: Compared to disposable ones, reusable bags, especially those available in Australia, can be more expensive. However, their cost-effectiveness increases with continued use.
  • Storage Space: Foldable shopping bags, when accumulated, can take up a substantial amount of storage space.

Being aware of these potential concerns can help you make a more informed choice when switching from disposable to reusable bags. Despite these complications, reusable bags’ environmental benefits outweigh these concerns!

Finding the Best Option of Reusable Shopping Bags For You in Australia

With many eco-friendly options available, choosing a suitable material for your reusable shopping bag in Australia can seem like a daunting task. Do you go for drawstring cotton bags or foldable shopping bags? Fortunately, at Albury Enviro Bags, we have a complete selection of reusable tote bags in a range of materials for businesses and households to choose from. If you would like some assistance in making your choice, speak with our friendly team today to receive more information.