I'm not a plastic bag. You, if you're reading this blog, are probably not a plastic bag either. I'm referring, of course, to Anya Hindmarch's much hyped canvas bag, left, which will descend upon America this June. The bag costs $15 (plus $15 shipping), a bargain for a Hindmarch; that said, if all you want is a reusable shopping bag, there are plenty of cheaper, eco-friendlier, and less self-righteous options. Five to think about:
My choice. Chances are you already have suitable bags, garnered from business conferences, magazine offers, and relatives. You can also reuse paper or plastic bags from previous trips.
2. Grocery stores
Grocery stores benefit when you don't use plastic bags, so they'll sell bags cheap, or give them away. We've had luck at Publix and Whole Foods (Publix gave us one, Whole Foods sells them for $2+), and heard Trader Joe's sells them for a dollar. Whole Foods also gives you a 5 cent refund for bringing your own bags.
3. Baskets or bins
Keep everything in the buggy until you reach the car, then transfer groceries to a special bin or set of bins in the truck.
4. DIY bags
A perfect mix of form and function. Just be sure the bag is sturdy enough for cans, etc.
- Bags made from recycled plastic bags: My favorite example of these (right) comes from the Dec/Jan 2007 issue of BUST. BUST still hasn't put any content online (why?), so I'd purchase the issue either from BUST's website or eBay.
- In light of San Francisco's recent ban, Fashion-Incubator's holding a "redesign the reusable shopping bag" contest (deadline: June 1st). Here's the first entry.
- UPDATE: Fab crafter U-handblog just put up excellent instructions for a sturdy and compact fabric bag.
5. Other retail options
If none of the above work for you, you can always buy bags from online retailers. However, I would spend no more than $45, preferably $9.00 or less per bag. They're going to get beaten up and dripped on anyway.
Four general store ideas:
- Reusable Bags. They offer the most comprehensive selection, even offering replacements for produce bags. I also like their recycled options.
- Thrift stores.
- Etsy. Style Bubble found 9 great bags on Etsy; we've also covered Etsy bag sellers (part 1, part 2).
- L.L. Bean totes ($16-$45).
Three bags that are recycled or benefit charity:
- Hayden-Harnett's Friends of Al Eco-Tote, $55.00 ($35 goes to charity).
- REfound Objects' Recycled Cement Bag (UK), £13.00 (store via Fly).
- UN World Food Programme's FEED bag, $59.95. The bag is reversible, and bag proceeds will feed a child for one school year. Shop Diary bought one & loves it.
Four compact options that will fit in your purse or glove compartment:
- Large Floral Nylon Shopping Bag, $7.99, Container Store (via Awesome).
- ACME Bags Workhorse Style 1500, $9.95 (discounted when you buy 2 or more), Reusable Bags (via Fashion-Incubator). One of the best out there.
- Green Grocer's Foldable City Shopper, £1.49, is a good choice for UK shoppers. I've also heard that Asda and Tesco have good bags (via Core77).
- Graphic Series Pouches and Singles, $31.00 for 5 or $6.50 for one, Environsax. Envirosax has three different graphic series (the above pouch is sold out, but singles are still available), and an organics line (via Miss Malaprop).
- UPDATE: Three other brands to check out are Baggu, RuMe, & Flip & Tumble. All offer attractive compact bags for competitive prices.
Finally, if you live within walking distance of your grocery store, you might try a shopping trolley. They're considered geriatric, but I'd take a trolley over no trolley any time.
Other ideas? Let us know!