The Truth About Canvas Bags: Are They Really Eco-Friendly?

are canvas bags really eco friendly

You and everyone you know probably have a canvas bag — whether it's from shops seeking to embrace more sustainable packaging or from grocery shops. Even large corporations have started to follow suit! And it's not hard to see why.

Eco-friendly practices are in. Who wouldn't want to take part in saving the environment? But, are canvas bags really as eco-friendly as people make them out to be? Here's the truth about it.

What does eco-friendly mean?

In light of environmentally friendly options and alternatives, it is essential to define "eco-friendly" in the context of canvas bags.

When it first emerged in 1972, the green movement set out to raise awareness of the depletion of natural resources. Since then, more and more people have begun to use the phrases "green," "eco-friendly," and "sustainable" interchangeably — they have become buzzwords. However, they all mean very different things.

Green is used as an umbrella term for any topic relating to environmental impact. Sustainability and eco-friendly are two of the most common terms that fall within this category. Both of these terms emphasize the need to do something to protect the environment, but their approaches are extremely different time-wise.

To be eco-friendly means that a product does not affect the environment NOW. Sustainability, on the other hand, focuses on the LONG-TERM. It looks into the future — indicating that a product or practice will have positive environmental effects over time.

Sustainability isn't required for anything to be considered eco-friendly, but if it is, then it certainly qualifies as such.

So, are canvas bags REALLY eco-friendly?

holding a canvas bag

Yes, canvas bags are eco-friendly in the sense that they eliminate the need for single-use packaging. But, they are not completely sustainable, and here's why:

The production of cotton, from which canvas is produced, uses enormous quantities of water. Yes, it is an organic material, but unfortunately, only about 15% of the millions of bags are collected and stored in textile depositories for future reuse.

The manufacturing process of canvas bags may have more eco-toxicity than that of single-use packaging, according to research in 2020 by Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

And in 2018, Danish researchers found that it would take 20,000 uses, or one usage per day for 54 years, for the benefits of producing a canvas bag to outweigh the negatives.

When you add in all the branding, logos, and waterproofing that ends up in many of these bags, they may be just as non-biodegradable as some shopping bags.

Should you stop using canvas bags?

Now with all that said, should you stop using or buying canvas bags? Of course not. And notice how we said not COMPLETELY sustainable? Sure, they may not be sustainable because of how they're made and produced. But, canvas bags can be used again and again. It's about how you make the most out of your bag that can render it to be sustainable. Canvas bags are not just for your grocery trips. Check out the multitude of ways you can use canvas bags:

The Different Ways To Use Canvas Bags

  1. Travel bag: Going out of town soon? Take your canvas bag and use it as a carry-on bag. It can even be used as a handy shopping bag for your airport purchases.
  2. Plants and gardening: If you're always buying plants, you can use your canvas bag as a durable bag to transport them.
  3. Office or school: If you or your little one bring packed lunches, using a canvas bag can conveniently help you bring your food with you (like a lunchbox, but with more room!)
  4. Home storage: Canvas bags (especially bigger-sized totes) may be used to store everything from pens and pencils to toys to fabric and thread.
  5. Garbage: Much like how people reuse plastic bags for trash bag liners, canvas bags can be a smart and innovative way to line your bins. That way, it can be easily removed, washed, and replaced.

Overall, canvas bags are very convenient. The more often you carry and store your belongings in a canvas bag, the less of a negative impact you make on the planet.

How To Repurpose Canvas Bags

canvas bag pouch

What if your canvas bag breaks? When the strap gives out or you no longer have any need for your canvas bag, don't just toss it. Turn it into something else! If you're looking for a way to repurpose your tote bag, here are some ideas to consider:

  • Cut them up and turn them into coasters
  • Use them as a plant pot holder
  • Turn them into a pillowcase
  • Use them in the kitchen as pot holders
  • Bring new life into them by sewing them into aprons
  • Sew them into small pouches 

How To Recycle Canvas Bags

If you don't have the time or use for repurposing canvas bags, you can always recycle them. At the moment, polypropylene is the only recyclable option for shopping bags. Unfortunately, polypropylene can't be recycled in every location. So, it's a good idea to verify this information with the people who organize your area's recycling center or curbside collection service.

The Great Benefits Of Canvas Bags

And apart from recycling and repurposing, there are additional noble benefits of using canvas bags such as:

Some Use Recycled Materials

Some companies use recycled materials for their canvas bags. With that, hazardous substances are prevented from entering landfills and seas.


The cost of these totes is really reasonable. Given their low production cost and ease of manufacture, canvas bags often provide better value at retail. Their inexpensive price makes them a viable option for any business looking for a green promotional product.

Promotes Green Initiatives

At the end of the day, it's all about the intention. Investing in canvas bags is a great move for a company that wants to practice and highlight its green marketing efforts. They are inexpensive, and the benefits to your company and the world as a whole may be substantial. If you can get these bags into the hands of consumers, you'll be giving them a powerful instrument that might pave the way to a more sustainable planet.

Final Thoughts

Canvas bags are eco-friendly because they eliminate the need for single-use packaging. However, they are not completely sustainable due to their manufacturing process. On the bright side though, you can make them more sustainable in nature by reusing and repurposing your canvas bags. 

A canvas bag is roomy enough to carry anything from packed lunches to grocery store essentials and sturdy enough to be reused time and time again. Try to make better use of the canvas bags you already have, reduce your need to buy new ones, and find creative ways to reuse the ones you haven't used at all.

Be Eco-Friendly And Sustainable With An Impack

Are you on the lookout for greener packaging? Our mailer bags and paper tapes are manufactured from high-quality, environmentally-friendly materials. They can be recycled too. And if they aren't, they'll biodegrade harmlessly into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass, avoiding any of the harmful residues or microplastics that might result from improper disposal. Click here to check out our products!

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