Sunday, November 25, 2007

All hail the reusable bag!

If you're one of the many whose holiday shopping officially began this weekend, would you do me a favor? As you're loading up that credit card debt, pretty please don't also load up a bunch of throw-away bags. Before you hit that next amazing sale at the mall, check out the great deals at Even better, skip the mall and purchase some reusable bags to give as gifts. But go now, because a lot of the sales end today!

My top favorites and recommendations:
  • Reisenthal's Mini Maxi (pictured), which I'm pretty sure is the best ten bucks I've ever spent on a shopping bag. They're even cheaper if you buy two or more. Mine is red, and the cashiers are always surprised at how compact and stylish it is. They have a solid-color line, as well.
  • Organic cotton produce and grain bags for $2.95 (discounted when you buy four or more). Seriously. Do we really need plastic bags for out plastic bags? These are super lightweight, come in two sizes and can be thrown in the wash.
  • The Heavy Duty Classic Hemp Shopping bag, on sale for $22.95 (reg. $24.95). This truly is a a heavy duty bag! Lightweight version is available also for $7.95.
  • A classic shopping set in lightweight organic cotton; eight bags for $19.95. Or the hemp version; nine bags for $39.60. This is a fabulous gift. I got my dad a set of the latter in black for his birthday this year, and he loves them!
  • And, it's not a bag, but since we're talking about the vileness of plastic, check out the Guyot stainless steel water bottle, on sale for $17.95 (reg. $19.95). I use this bottle everyday, all day. You might want to consider adding a splash guard for a few extra dollars.
Of course, if you want to save some cash and are handy with a sewing needle, you can always make your own bag.

Helping people understand the evilness of plastic bags and the absolute ease of utilizing reusable bags has become one of my missions in recent years. I often give sets of bags for gifts, gently point out the wastefulness when shopping with family and friends, and recently, wrote an article for my CSA's newsletter. If you still need convincing to change your disposable bag ways, maybe this will help:
So, you've switched to a more fuel-efficient vehicle, invested in wind power through your utility company and buy your food locally. Think that's all you can do to lessen your impact on the demand for oil? Think again!

Just as omnipresent as the news about our unhealthy dependence on petroleum products, is an item that requires and estimated 12 million barrels of oil per year to manufacture. Oddly, as present in our lives as they are, we almost never consider them.

Plastic bags. They're convenient, they're free and this year, the U. S. will goes through 100 billion of them. Worldwide usage estimates are as high as 1 trillion. That's a lot of bags, and although "free" to the consumer, their impact is very costly to the durability of our planet.

The production of plastic bags requires petroleum, which we all know is a non-renewable resource that increases our dependency on foreign suppliers. In addition to the 12 million barrels of oil needed to make our bags, the energy used by the bag manufacturing plants and transportation and distribution companies use even more resources, creating even more global warming emissions. Prospecting and drilling for all these petroleum resources results in the destruction and disruption of ecosystems across the globe. Consider too, the pollution produced by the toxic chemical ingredients needed to make plastic.

All these costs for just the production of our beloved plastic bags. There are further costs associated with the use and disposal of bags, as well. In fact, plastic bags have become so costly that retailers like Ikea are now charging customers for them, entire countries have introduced a tax on them and the supervisor of San Francisco has completely banned them from the city!

And don't think those paper bags are any better. Known as a "global warming double-whammy," in addition to the manufacturing and transportation costs to our resources and environment, paper bag production requires forests (major absorbers of greenhouse gases) to be cut down.

What can you do to help our society's addiction to "free" shopping bags? offers many ideas on their Take Action page at, including tips on how to wean oneself from plastic bags, links to form letters for your politicians and ideas on how to advocate.

The fastest and easiest way to make a difference though, is to simply stop using disposable shopping bags. You can increase your family's "MPG's" right now by purchasing reusable bags online or at your local market. Happy shopping!


Finally, as a veg*n, I should also mention the fact that plastic bags are contributing to the destruction of ocean life. Both directly, in that sea creatures choke and die as a result of mistaking bags for food; and indirectly, as plastic bags pollute ocean animals' habitat.

You know that if there's a flick'r group, it must be a revolution: All hail the reusable bag! :)


Ben Garland said...

SWEET! Perfect timing. Ordering right now.

We already upgraded to steel water bottles, though I prefer the Klean Kanteen brand since it's a more narrow opening (mouth fits perfectly, don't need a splash guard).

Can't wait to see you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mikaela said...

Hey, BG! :)

Yeah, Klean Kanteen is nice (even if they can't spell). I know a couple people that use them and love them. The only reason why I stick with the Guyot is because I like my water filled with lots of ice; the wide mouth allows me to put in handfuls of ice cubes at a time. The narrow bottles had me putting in one cube at a time. Serious PITA, man. I don't have a splash guard, though I can see where some people would prefer it.

Can't wait to see you EITHER!!!!!!!!!!

onkelo said...

add me to your "success story" section. you gifted me my reusable bags and banning the (nonreusable) bag ever since! i get a bit irrational (some would say) when I forget my bags. I refuse plastic/paper and end up carrying an armload. so I rarely forget these days:) thanks and I

can't wait to see YOU again EITHER!!!!!!!!!!