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BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag

Plastic bags are not cool. You know it. I know it. He knows it. She knows it. Yet, each year in the U.S., we add one hundred billion plastic bags to landfills. Plastics don’t biodegrade, they photo-degrade, which means they sit there for hundreds of years slowly breaking down into terrible toxins that harm our wildlife and contaminate our water and soil. Paper bags are better than plastic, but they’re not as saintly as you’d imagine either. I was shocked to learn that about four times more energy and heaps of water are used to produce paper bags.

So what’s a girl to do? Well you could use your pockets or put that donkey-and-cart to use, or you could simply make a point of bringing your own bag.

I’ve recently banished plastic—bags not cards of course—from my shopping outings and the first few weeks my main problem was that I wouldn’t think about the bloody bag until I was at the register and needed it! Kind of like the way I don’t think about food until I’m ravenous and then I’ll eat anything [McDonald’s can put] in front of me.

So it seems the trick to my being a plastic-free shopper is planning for the fact that I don’t plan. I could tie a string—a green string even—to my finger to remind myself to grab a bag before I go shopping, or I could just stick a reusable bag in the car, in my handbag, in my jacket pocket, on my coat rack, on my gate, and on my arm so that I’m always armed and ready to fight off those plastic-pushers.

If you stash these reusable babies wherever you stop before leaving the house, there’s a good chance you’ll use one. There’s an even better chance you’ll want to use one if you outfit yourself with one of these stylish but sturdy alternatives to that nasty plastic bag.

Baggu Bag
I’ll be happy to be called a Baggu Lady, toting these stylish and colorful reusable totes around. One baggu ($8) holds the contents of two to three plastic grocery bags so I’m planning to buy a six-pack ($38) of sturdy nylon baggus—in fuschia, olive, navy, grey, aqua, and red—to tote my whole trolley-full of groceries (and six-packs) in style. I love that these bags are ethically made in China. I love that they’re machine-washable. I love that shipping costs are a low flat rate of $2. I love that each Baggu comes with a little drawstring pouch so that you can easily stash it in your purse or pocket. And I just LOVE saying “Yoohoo, I’ve got my own Baggu!” really loudly at the Duane Reade register. Plastic looks pathetic next to these bags.

Feed Bag
So I’m a huge fan of the U.N. World Food Programme’s Feed Bag, designed by honorary spokesperson Lauren Bush. I ordered one about a month ago and when it finally arrived, I was eager to parade it around the market and neighborhood (which I know means I’m not a good Catholic because I’m enjoying the attention I’m getting for giving.) Trust me: buy this bag and you’ll never bother with plastic again. Why would you when you can fit everything into a stylish roomy burlap bag that saves the environment and feeds a child in need for one whole year? Look good, feel good, be good—it’s all good.

I’m Not a Plastic Bag
Just in case you were wondering, Anya Hindmarch’s cute “I’m Not a Plastic Bag” bag is not a plastic bag. It’s cotton, and only one of many other stylish alternatives to the plastic bag. That said, its obvious style combined with its obvious statement quickly made it an obvious “it” bag. Celeb non-plastic-toting sightings only fueled the flaming fire for this tote, so that it became a hot and hard-to-get-your-paws-on accessory all around the world. While I’d personally be more inclined to go against the “it” grain, and actually buy a bag that gives back—the Feed Bag, I have to give it up to Anya for making it en vogue to snub plastic. A limited edition blue version of this bag will be available to buy from selected New York and Tri-State area Whole Foods Market stores as of July 18, so get in line now, or troll e-Bay shortly thereafter.

Photo courtesy of Bagu Bag

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