Alibaba.com, Amazon.com, and TotebagFactory.com each offer cotton bags in large quantities near or at wholesale prices of less than $1 per bag. Cotton bags are very popular for their durability and since they are reusable. They are often distributed by retailers as a means of limiting the use of plastic bags for environmental or economic reasons.
Cotton bags are part of a larger category of reusable bag types including calico, hemp, jute, nylon and various durable plastics. Reusable bags are heavier, more durable and have a longer life cycle than disposable plastic or paper bags.
It is important to remember that a reusable bag needs to be used repeatedly to be beneficial for the environment. If used as disposable bags, cotton bags can do greater damage than traditional disposable bags. It has been suggested that a cotton bag needs to be reused more than 100 times before having a significant improvement for the environment. The reason for this disparity is that cotton bag manufacturing is relatively energy intensive.
Cotton, in its natural state, is not strong and must be twisted and spun before it can be woven into cloth and stitched into bags. Cloth is easy to decorate and can be dyed, printed or embroidered. The United States is the third largest producer of cotton behind China and India.