From the team at BBC Wildlife Magazine
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The best animal and plant tote bags

Eschew plastic and indulge in a more eco-friendly tote bag. Here, we pick some of the best wildlife-inspired cotton tote bags on the market today.

Published: July 10, 2022 at 7:00 am
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When supermarkets stopped issuing free single-use plastic bags in 2015, there was a sea change in the way we shopped. Suddenly, everyone kept a couple of cotton tote bags in their backpacks for their weekly big shops.

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Granted, there has speculation over the years as to whether tote bags are actually that eco-friendly. A 2018 study by the Ministry of Environment and Food in Denmark said “In particular, conventional cotton carrier bags should be reused at least 50 times before being disposed of; organic cotton carrier bags should be reused 150 times based on their environmental production cost.”

It's therefore worth noting that you should probably only invest in one of these totes if, like us, you'll use them until they're decades old, shredded into several pieces, and starting to develop some kind of strange fungus.

If you decide a tote bag is for you, we've picked out some of our favourite wildlife-inspired eco-friendly tote bags on the market, nearly all of which have been created with renewable energy and do a lot less damage to the planet than other totes.


The best tote bags with wildlife designs

Personalised baby sloth tote bag

Sloth tote bag

If your entire family decided they all wanted a sloth tote bag – and why wouldn't they?! – you might need a little personalisation to tell them apart. Thankfully, this tote from HippoWarehouse does just that. Plus, there’s 18 different colours to choose from – from classic red and burgundy, cornflower blue and surf blue, to bottle green, kiwi and mint. It’s made from ethically sourced 100% cotton, with a drawstring fastening. What more could you wish for? Well, should you wish to take the personalised sloth theme further, there are also matching kids hoodies (in five sizes and eight colours), kids t-shirts (in five sizes and ten colours), baby bodysuits (in seven sizes and one colour) and badges (in two sizes and one colour) available too!

Swift tote bag

Swift tote bag

This chic cream tote comes with a watercolour-style print of two swifts by artist Penny Smallshire, and is made from 100% organically grown and Fair Trade cotton. Plus, any bird fan will be pleased to know that 10% of the sale of this item goes to the RSPB, so you can celebrate birdlife in more ways than one! 10% of sales from other totes from Gift Wild also go to charity – dragonfly tote to the British Dragonfly Society, kingfisher tote to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and red admiral butterfly tote to Butterfly Conservation.

Blue tit tote bag

Blue tit tote bag

This RSPB tote bag uses renewable energy throughout its production process and supply chain, so you can rest easy knowing you're not damaging the birdlife you're trying to celebrate. If you wanted to complete the look, the RSPB also sell matching blue tit t-shirts in various shapes and sizes. Other RSPB tote bags feature puffins, swifts, goldfinches and more.

Otter tote bag

Otter tote bag

This otter design has melted our heart, and we're sure it'll do the same to you. Printed in the UK on 100% organic cotton in a factory powered by renewable energy, this tote is both eco-conscious and adorable. It’s available in natural and white. Other designs include a badger, adder, stag beetle and pine marten.

Bee heart tote bag

Bee heart tote bag

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has introduced a new range of 'Bee the Change' designs, in aid of its ongoing projects saving the UK's bumblebee species. This monochrome tote is made from organic cotton and is only available in black. Other tote bags in the range include a bumblebee on lavender, “I Love Bumblebees” and a geometric bumblebee.

Jumping spider tote bag

Jumping spider tote bag

Want to deliver a message to fellow commuters as you head into work? This is the tote for you, and is available in natural and white. If you want an entire ‘Save the Distinguished Jumping Spider’ outfit, there are also t-shirts, jumpers and hoodies. You'll be the talk of the town. Other Buglife tote bags include “Bees Need Friends”, beetles and bugs.

Purple loosestrife tote bag

https://butterflyconservationstore.com/product/peacock-butterfly-tote-bag/

Designed on the Isle of Wight and made in India, this Plantlife tote features a flowering purple loosestrife, and comes in three different background colours: white, cream or black. Perfect for carrying your trowel and gloves to the allotment. Other designs include fruiting hawthorn and spindle, and flowering stinking hellebore and marsh marigold.

Tiger tote bag

Tiger tote bag

This might just be our favourite tote bag of the bunch. Designed to celebrate World Tiger Day, this tote features a big graphic design that'll be spotted by your friends from miles away! To help eliminate mass production, the WWF print and handmake these totes to order so there's no wastage.

Peacock butterfly tote bag

Peacock butterfly tote bag

The peacock butterfly is one of the most easily recognised species of butterflies – and it'll certainly help you stand out from the crowd with this tote, and if you love the design, there’s also matching t-shirts, hoodies and jumpers. Like many of the other totes, it's printed on organic cotton in a factory powered by renewable energy sources. Other Lepidoptera appearing on Butterfly Conservation tote bags include elephant hawk-moth, comma butterfly and six-spot burnet moth.

Dragonfly tote bag

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The glitter-effect dragonfly design makes this tote the perfect chic companion piece to a day on the beach. Throw in your swimsuit and suncream and head down to the sea. It’s also got a zipper fastening so nothing will slip out the top. What’s more, there are a wealth of other designs to pick from, whether you’re after a pair of mesmerising stingrays, a bamboo-zled panda, a pair of stylish wolves howling at the moon, busy ladybirds scurrying about or a fascinating silvery jellyfish drifting on an ocean current.

Authors

Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.

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