The manufacturing of one canvas bag is equivalent to that of 400 plastic bags. However, the idea behind the canvas shopping bag craze is to get people to quit using plastic bags and begin continuously reusing their canvas ones. Canvas is a renewable source and unlike plastic bags, canvas ones are biodegradable and are sturdy enough to withstand years of use. So my answer to your question is yes and no.
The great thing about a sturdy bag such as a canvas bag is that it will last for years. Even if it takes a little extra energy to make a durable product, it is much better than dealing with a bunch of plastic bags. Even if the plastic bags are recycled, it still takes extra energy to do so.
I personally find that my bicycle pannier bags work extremely well as re-usable shopping bags. I have been using them for over six years for all of my shopping needs, and I find them very convenient. They just snap onto the back of my bicycle, so I don’t get any back strain from using them like I would if I used a backpack for shopping. Pannier bags can be made from canvas, but more commonly they are made from durable synthetic fabrics to make them water resistant. So, they are a very good investment. Shopping by bicycle has other advantages as well such as getting a bit of exercise, saving money on fuel, and reducing your carbon footprint.
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