General Question

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

How long does it take for a cloth grocery bag to disintegrate in a landfill?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (24052points) April 29th, 2023

I’m thinking of using them for my trash, when my plastic bags run out? I have over 35 cloth grocery store bags.

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17 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

Are they actual cloth or recycled plastic waste that has been turned into fiber then woven? If the latter, it’s still plastic, and unless it is a polymer of vegetable origin, it is unlikely to degrade to an organic substance.
Some deep diving internet research may reveal what the bags provided by your grocery store are actually made of.

Around here, the reusable grocery bags are not made of naturally occurring fibers.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@canidmajor I don’t know what the bags are made of. Canada is passing laws banning single use plastic bags, so they might actually be cloth of some sort.

canidmajor's avatar

Your grocery bags are not single-use if they resemble cloth. They are meant to be reusable, which they may state somewhere 9n the bag itself. It is much less expensive t9 repurpose recycled plastic into reusable bags than to make them from real cloth.
If you are buying your groceries from a chain, you can probably find this out from their site, or even ask a general Google Q.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@canidmajor I called the chain customer service line, and they said that the bags are not plastic. They don’t have a problem with customers using them as trash bags.

janbb's avatar

@canidmajor I think RDG’s problem is that he gets his groceries delivered so new bags each time. Here in NJ, they’ve banned single use bags so I bring my reusable bags in with me each time.

canidmajor's avatar

@janbb Yes, he has said that in the past. Because he was concerned about the length of time for breakdown of the material, I was pointing out that the actual composition of the bags might not actually be a breakdownable fabric of a more natural origin, but a plastic bag that was simply more robust than previous bags he had gotten.

I may have misinterpreted, he may not be concerned at all, simply curious.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@canidmajor I was curious if I we should be concerned.

janbb's avatar

@canidmajor I understood that.

LostInParadise's avatar

The cloth bags are only helpful if they are reused. 35 cloth bags should be more than you will ever need.

SnipSnip's avatar

Not long for the cotton canvas ones. Cotton is the best fabric as far as it degrading on land. Some Tshirts degrade in as little as six months. The other stiff and ugly bags are as bad as the plastic bags the stores use. Worse actually.

janbb's avatar

@SnipSnip But not if you reuse them over and over again as they’re meant to be.

SnipSnip's avatar

@janbb….they eventually wear out so they are going into the landfills.

janbb's avatar

@SnipSnip So are we all for that matter! lol

canidmajor's avatar

@janbb Nah, I plan to be bronzed and worshipped as the divine being I really am. ;-)

kruger_d's avatar

You can check the material by burning an edge. Natural fibers burn leaving soot. Synthetics melt.

RocketGuy's avatar

If they are clean you can try to give them away for free. or local farmers’ market.

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