Fresh Living

reusablebotanical.jpgIs it really so eco to buy reusable shopping bags? Especially when you probably have some mismatched totebags in your closet that would do just fine? That’s the question Holly asked in her post here on her discomfort with shelling out for cute new bags, even though “Green is the New Black” and “I’m Not a Plastic Bag” bags are the new Birkin. Or at least the new LeSportsac.

And it’s an excellent question–one I especially ask myself on line at Trader Joe’s where they have totes for sale that I’d call semi-disposable. Meaning they’re flimsy enough that they’ll go to a landfill in the not-distant future and take up even more space than their equally non-biodegradable predecessor, the plastic bag.

That said, I am a fan of the nice, convenient, pretty reusable bag. And if it’s pretty and convenient for your lifestyle, my thought is you’ll use it more–especially if your existing tote collection just reminds you of unpleasant conferences and other bits of ancient, silkscreened history. Here are some of my favorite reusable not-plastic bags:

1) The Acme Earth Tote. is a terrific resource with more than 700 kinds of bags. A couple of years ago I gave my mom this sturdy tote from them. Made of recycled plastic, it stands up straight like paper bags and can handle a hefty load. Because of their slight bulk, they’re best for car-based living. She just keeps them in her trunk at all times.

2) Chico Bags. Ah, my beloved Chico. Lightweight, portable, and–this is key–with its own little sewn-in pouch, this is the bag of choice for city folk. The company is constantly coming out with new styles and colors. I’d recommend any of them–especially the RePETe bag made of recycled bottles (always make sure your tote’s material is also not harming the earth).

3) Envirosax tops the fashion charts. They have bright prints, funky patterns, and a cute kids line with pink piggies and the like. They’re made of polyester, which doesn’t thrill me, but they’re printed with non-toxic inks and dyes. And they also have a line of organic bags made from linen, cotton, and hemp.

4)  Foldable Backpacks. A friend’s boyfriend said most reusable bags are uber-feminine, something I hadn’t thought about. But now I see it’s totally true. Most have a slightly purse-like shape and I don’t know many guys carrying around bright botanical prints with pride. Muji makes a gender-neutral bag, and this Acme tote in black might also do the trick. But my favorite for men is this foldable backpack for a non-over-the-shoulder look that might appeal most of all.

5) Reusable Produce Bags. While we’re concerned about our larger shopping bags, we may overlook the zillions of littler ones we use for produce. This sweet set has 10 cotton produce bags, plus those thingies that make your produce last longer in the fridge.

Did I miss any? What’s your favorite reusable shopping bag?


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