Monday, August 13, 2007

Plastic bags be gone!

The below article was written by my Mom. If you have a favorite shopping bag, post a picture.

All bags featured here are handmade by artisans and are available online:

Bags Left to right:

"Owl Messenger Bag" from Resist Today $55

"Birds in Night-Granny Bag" from CharmDesign at Etsy $52

"Five Pocket Messenger" in Cardinal Pink from Blissbyheather at Etsy $59


I consider myself a self-confessed tree-hugger and a card-carrying member of the Audubon Society, Ducks Unlimited and Sierra Club. But hey, that's not a special interest group. It's about making things better for myself, my family, my city and all humanity. After all, this is the only planet we've got. (No, Mars is not going to work out for at least several hundred years.) I'm on a mission to get my own personal habits in line with my values here. With a little effort, I'm finding that it's easy being green.

The first issue I'm tackling is those plastic shopping bags we all get so many of every week. They're convenient, but consider the downside--they're made out of crude oil, which is getting more expensive and increases our dependence on imports. They take up space in landfills and spoil the landscape, ending up in rivers, fields and trees. This came home to me on Earth Day when I joined our Audubon Club in picking up trash from a local water reservoir and nature preserve. You know, they say it takes a million years for plastic to degrade in the environment.

So one thing I'm doing is reuse them. I line trash cans with them instead of buying new ones. I give the rest of them to my church food pantry to bag food gifts for clients.

Then I am trying to stop getting them in the first place. In this I am joining people like the ones in New York who lined up to buy cloth shopping bags imprinted with "This is not a plastic bag", and the City of San Francisco who banned plastic bags altogether.

I first encountered "bring your own bag" in Germany in 1969, when I arrived at a checkout counter with a full shopping basket, only to learn that the first thing I had to buy was my own cotton or nylon string bags. These bags are awsome. They take up almost no room in your purse, but can hold three times as much as a plastic bag without breaking.

After moving back to the states in 1972, I lost the string bag habit, but I'm picking it up again now. I bought some from a supplier in Public Citizen's Green Pages, and am keeping them in purse and car. I found a great new supplier on line and have ordered a dozen more because my husband is also showing a willingness to utilize our own shopping bags.

My new supplier is Here you have your choice of cotton or nylon, organic or not, string or canvas. They even have produce bags so you don't have to use those filmy plastics bags at the produce counter that hasten rotting of fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator. They have a variety of cool colors as well as the natural white. They even have that coveted bag printed with "This is not a plastic bag". Google lists a lot of other suppliers, too.

If anyone has tried BYOB (bring your own bag) or any have any other Green ideas or experiences, will you let us hear about it?

1 comment:

Bri Ribaj said...

I very much enjoyed this. I read about "this is not a plastic bag" a while back and was also reminiscing about my own childhood when I would observe my mother shopping using non-plastic, washable bags, which were always 'on' her, carefully housed in the 'couture' bags/purses. I am happy to report that I have cut down on plastic bag usage. Great post.