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Which shopping bag is "greenest" to use?

Kai Ryssdal, Bennett Purser, and Liz Sanchez Apr 2, 2019
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Employees hand out free reusable grocery bags at a Whole Foods Market in 2008 in Pasadena, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

More than 127 countries have banned plastic bags due to their harmful environmental impacts. But cotton tote bags, which have been marketed as the “greener” substitute to plastic, may not be the friendliest option when it comes to manufacturing. A recent Danish study found that while plastic bags are not biodegradable, and are a major ocean pollutant, making plastic bags is easier on the environment than making cotton bags. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke about this with reporter Zoë Schlanger, who recently explored what the best type of shopping bag might be, environmentally, in an article for Quartz.

“If you had to choose just one, and had nothing at the moment, maybe a really durable plastic bag that you can use for a very long time and not throw out,” Schlanger said, about picking the shopping bag that is best for the environment.

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

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