WXXI AM News

Connections: The cotton tote dilemma

Aug 25, 2021

How many cotton tote bags do you have? The bags have been touted as eco-friendly alternatives to plastic bags. In some cases, they've become brand-boosting fashion statements. But as Grace Cook recently wrote for the New York Times, the ubiquity of the totes may have led to a new environmental problem: the bags are water intensive and associated with forced labor. According to a 2018 study in Denmark, Cook writes, "an organic cotton tote needs to be used 20,000 times to offset its overall impact of production." Disposing of or recycling the bags also poses a problem.

So what should customers do? Our guests this hour weigh in on possible solutions, sustainability, and the future of packaging. Our guests:

  • Kimie Romeo, Irondequoit Town Councilwoman, adjunct professor at RIT, local business owner, mom and grammie, and environmental advocate
  • Enid Cardinal, senior advisor to the president for strategic planning and sustainability at RIT