People generally know that plastic bags aren’t great for the environment but are you aware your cotton tote isn’t either? Sure it’s not going to end up in the ocean or sitting around a landfill forever and ever but it has some drawbacks as well. Which isn’t to say dump it, it’s just use it as much as you can before you replace it.
A new study look at the environmental impact of bags, excluding what we do with them afterwards. Meaning the impact of trash in the ocean was not taken into account. Cotton doesn’t end up the bellies of sea life because it biodegrades over time being a natural fiber. Of course, in order to get from ball of plant matter to your handy tote, it goes through a long, waste filled process.
Manufacturing textiles is a very dirty process. With quite an impact on the environment. No one is distributing that from the store onward that this totes are not better than bags. The issue is what happens before they get there. There’s no answer here except to say that use them as much you can, repair them if you can when they finally can’t go on, look into upcycling other materials into new bags.