A funny thing happened when I stopped using plastic shopping bags: I started saving money on purses. I started collecting cute reusable totes that make me so happy that I kind of just stopped using regular purses, which means I stopped buying them. And although my reusable tote budget increased, the price differential proved beneficial to the bottom line.
Although it would have been a good strategy, I didn’t start using reusable shopping bags to quell my eco-naughty purse-shopping habit–my inspiration came in the form of factoids such as this: between 500 billion and one trillion plastic grocery bags are consumed worldwide each year. Or, that 100,000 birds die annually from encounters with plastic bags, not to mention the estimated 100,000 whales, turtles, and other marine animals who suffer abysmal fates thanks to windblown plastic bags that pollute their environments.
And oh it goes on. In the United States alone, 12 million barrels of oil are required to produce enough plastic bags to appease our needs. And then there’s that little decomposition problem: 500 years in the landfill. And the facts about paper bags are equally depressing. Producing paper bags requires more energy and creates more air and water pollution than producing plastic bags. Recycling paper is much more energy-intensive than recycling plastic, and then there’s the trees. In 1999, 14 million of them were knocked out to create the 10 billion paper grocery bags we used that year.
So, helloooo totes. In my Brooklyn neighborhood reusable shopping bag, totes, and baskets have become the accessory de rigueur. And cashiers no longer look at us funny when we say we don’t need a bag! (Although I still find that if you have your own bag, you always have to pack it yourself–which I don’t mind, but it’s kind of curious.) Here are three of my favorites that have knocked the old purses off the top shelf:
• The Tigmi bags (pictured above) from Simple Peace are hand-woven at a Fair Trade artisan cooperative in Tigmijjou, Morocco–super cool bag, awesome cause.
• Pretty Green Bags are just so pretty.
• If the owls in the Tree Sitting and Talking Owls totes made by The Inconvenient Bag aren’t the cutest things ever, I’m stumped.
WIN A TIGMI BAG (just like one of the cute ones in the photo above!)
Simple Peace has donated several Tigmi Bags to help two lucky Care2 readers break the plastic bag habit. Leave a comment in the comment field, and two of you will be randomly selected to receive one of these lovely, 100-percent natural water reed basket bags hand-woven in Morocco. The winner will be randomly drawn and announced on April 3. Good luck!
CONGRATULATIONS TO: CAROL STROUSE!