The Most Sustainable Material for Tote Bags [2023]

Are you wondering what tote bag material is the most sustainable? As eco-conscious consumers, we always want to know the environmental impact of the products we use. Tote bags have become increasingly popular due to their reusability and eco-friendly nature, but not all tote bags are created equal. In this blog, our expert team at Purse Brands™ will guide you through different types of materials and help you choose the most sustainable one for your tote bag needs.

Why is it important to choose a sustainable material for tote bags?

Before diving into the details, let's discuss why choosing sustainable materials for tote bags is important. One major reason is reducing plastic waste. According to National Geographic, around 8 million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans every year. By using reusable tote bags made of sustainable materials, we can significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste and its harmful impact on the environment.

Secondly, using sustainable materials reduces carbon footprint. The production of plastic bags requires significant amounts of fossil fuels, which further contributes to climate change. On the other hand, tote bags made of environmentally friendly materials require less energy and resources, making them a better option for the planet.

Now that we understand why we should choose sustainable materials, let's explore the options.

Organic Cotton

Organic cotton is a popular choice for tote bags due to its eco-friendliness. Unlike conventional cotton, organic cotton cultivation does not involve harmful pesticides and requires significantly less water. Additionally, organic cotton is biodegradable and does not release toxic chemicals when decomposing.


  • Environmentally friendly cultivation process
  • Biodegradable
  • No toxic chemicals upon decomposition


  • Requires large amounts of water to cultivate (although less than conventional cotton)
  • Expensive compared to other materials

Organic cotton tote bags are available from a variety of brands like Baggu, Patagonia, and Everlane.


Hemp is another sustainable option for tote bags. It is a durable alternative to cotton that requires less water and pesticides during production. Hemp is also naturally resistant to mold and ultraviolet light, making it a longer-lasting option.


  • Low water usage
  • Resistant to mold and ultraviolet light
  • Biodegradable


  • Not as soft as cotton
  • May have a slightly rough texture
  • Expensive compared to other materials

Brands like EcoWeco, Soxfords, and Soul Flower offer hemp tote bags.

Recycled Plastic

Recycled plastic tote bags are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic bags. They are made from post-consumer recycled material and reduce the amount of plastic waste from landfills. A bonus is that they are often very lightweight and easy to fold and store in a purse or pocket.


  • Made from post-consumer recycled material
  • Very lightweight and easy to carry around
  • Reduces plastic waste


  • Not biodegradable
  • Producing the recycled material for the bags still requires energy
  • Not suitable for heavier items

Brands that offer recycled plastic tote bags include ChicoBag, Bagito, and ECOBAGS.


Jute is a sturdy, biodegradable fiber that is commonly used for making bags. It requires little to no water to grow and is naturally resistant to pests and insects. Jute is also recyclable and reusable, making it a great choice for tote bags.


  • Little to no water usage for cultivation
  • Biodegradable
  • Recyclable and reusable


  • Not as soft as cotton
  • May have a slightly rough texture
  • Deteriorates quicker in humid environments

Jute tote bags can be found at brands like BAGGU, BGOOD, and Traidcraft.

Quick Tips and Facts

  • Avoid synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and PVC as they are not biodegradable and often require significant amounts of energy and resources to produce.
  • Look for tote bags that are locally made to reduce shipping and transportation emissions.
  • If you're looking for tote bags to carry groceries, consider getting insulated totes made of recyclable materials to keep your groceries fresh during transportation.
  • Remember to wash your tote bags regularly to keep them clean and in good condition for longer use.


What is the best fabric to use for tote bags?

The most sustainable fabric for tote bags is organic cotton or hemp.

Which type of bag is most environmentally friendly?

Tote bags made of organic cotton, hemp, or jute have the lowest environmental impact and are the most sustainable options for tote bags.

Are Tote bags more environmentally friendly?

Yes, tote bags are more environmentally friendly compared to single-use plastic bags. However, it's important to choose a tote bag made of environmentally friendly materials to have the most positive impact on the environment.


When choosing a tote bag, it's important to look beyond just its aesthetic and consider its environmental impact. Tote bags made of sustainable materials are becoming more widely available and affordable, and choosing one that works for you is a small but positive contribution to the planet. Opting for durable tote bags made of organic cotton, hemp, jute or post-consumer recycled materials will not only be a sustainable choice, but also allows you to make a statement for eco-consciousness.

Remember to always shop from brands that prioritize sustainability, and to take good care of your tote bags to extend their lifespan. Now that you know the most sustainable tote bag materials, it's time to go shopping!


Review Team
Review Team

The Popular Brands Review Team is a collective of seasoned professionals boasting an extensive and varied portfolio in the field of product evaluation. Composed of experts with specialties across a myriad of industries, the team’s collective experience spans across numerous decades, allowing them a unique depth and breadth of understanding when it comes to reviewing different brands and products.

Leaders in their respective fields, the team's expertise ranges from technology and electronics to fashion, luxury goods, outdoor and sports equipment, and even food and beverages. Their years of dedication and acute understanding of their sectors have given them an uncanny ability to discern the most subtle nuances of product design, functionality, and overall quality.

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