Cotten Tote Crisis

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A laundry line of cotton totes accumulated by a single person since the race to replace plastic began.Credit…Suzie Howell for The New York Times

Earth-friendly? Not exactly. It turns out the wholehearted embrace of cotton totes may actually have created a new problem.

An organic cotton tote needs to be used 20,000 times to offset its overall impact of production, according to a 2018 study by the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark. That equates to daily use for 54 years — for just one bag. According to that metric, if all 25 of her totes were organic, Ms. Berry would have to live for more than a thousand years to offset her current arsenal. (The study has not been peer-reviewed.)

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