Say no to plastic and paper with these chic plastic bag alternatives, which are perfect for all kinds of shopping
By Katy Caric
Did you know July is Plastic-Free Month? Given all the plastic bottles of water and other drinks many people are going through this month, it’s a great time to raise awareness about the pervasive problems of plastic and how much of this nasty, toxic material we use in our daily lives.
In fact, here are some scary facts you may not have know: we humans have produced 18.2 trillion pounds of plastics since large-scale production began in the early 1950s. That weight is equivalent to 1 billion elephants or 25,000 Empire State Buildings! Nearly 80% of that plastic is now stuck in landfills or the natural environment, adding toxins to our soil and water.
And the worst part is: we’re just getting started: scientists say that by 2050, another 26.5 trillion pounds will be produced worldwide. And to think: before 1950, this evil stuff barely existed!
Why We Need To End Plastic
Most plastics don’t biodegrade in any meaningful sense, so the plastic waste humans have generated could be with us for hundreds or even thousands of years, according to Jenna Jambeck, study co-author and associate professor of engineering at the University of Georgia.
A separate, recent study by the British research firm Eunomia said there may be as much as 70 million tons of plastic waste on the seafloor alone!
It’s all pretty depressing – until we realise that ending plastic starts with US. We can refuse to consume plastic by rejecting plastic eating utensils, straws, packaging and of course, shopping bags.
Many countries are now charging for plastic bags, or better yet – banning them outright. We think that’s great! And it’s much easier to shop without plastic if you’re always with your own trusty shopper.
Here, I’ve found 10 chic plastic bag alternatives you can take to the grocery store and beyond.
10 Chic Plastic Bag Alternatives
Made from recycled nylon, these reusable grocery bags were created to combat plastic pollution back in 2007. The Baggu carryall looks similar to a standard grocery bag but comes in minimalist stripes and other stylish patterns. The can also hold up to 50 pounds so they won’t break, no matter how many groceries you buy.
Price: $35 for three differently sized bags.
Back in the day, most Europeans and Americans carried sweet little string bags with them to buy their veggies, and now, they’re making a comeback! Whether your heading to the beach or picking up some vegetables, these bags are easy to pack in your purse ‘just in case’ you buy stuff you don’t want to put in your handbag.
Price: $19 for 3
Designed to resemble a retro grocery shopping bag, this Nannacay macrame bag is handmade by a community of artisans in Peru. Macrame is deceptively strong – the bag may look delicate, but it’s made with highly sturdy cotton rope and can be easily stored in your day purse. Whether you use this for grocery shopping or as a summer tote, you’ll be pleased to know that every purchase of Nannacay bags helps give back to impoverished Peruvian communities.
Minimalist in style, these simple bags may resemble loads of similar totes, but these ones are crafted with gorgeous GOTS certified organic cotton canvas. This multi-pocketed waxed canvas utility bag separates herbs from produce or wine from water bottles, depending on the occasion. These handmade bags also help to revitalize communities in rural Maine, where they are made.
Price: Around $50
It’s so sad that some supermarkets still insist that we wrap our produce in plastic bags at checkout! But at least these organic cotton bags offer a great alternative. And they even help your veggies to stay fresh: just moisten them before tucking your veggies inside, then throw ’em right in the fridge. Your treasured shopping stays fresh stowed away. If you’re concerned about ethics, you’ll be happy to know that these are made at a worker-owned facility in North Carolina.
Price: Around $20
This intricate bag with a subtle butterfly design stitched into either side was made by hand in Bali. Finished with colorful variations of Batik printed fabric lining, this grass-woven piece is as beautiful as it is durable, making it perfect for shopping of all kinds.
Price: Around $90
It doesn’t get eco-friendlier than Patagonia! Their Market tote is made with organic cotton and Fair Trade Certified sewing. The bag is made to last and designed with reinforced handles that connect with the two-layer bottom to support heavy loads.
9. Feed Bag
Founded by Lauren Bush Lauren, this burlap bag is the original FEED tote. Highly Instagrammable, and supporting a good cause, the bag was inspired by the bags of food rations distributed by the UN World Food Programme. Purchasing the tote provides one child with school meals for an entire year in 63 of the poorest countries around the world.
10. Kayu Grass Totes
Kayu’s ‘Pippa’ tote is the kind of bag I could see myself using whilst shopping in the vegetable markets of Paris. It has been hand-crafted in the Philippines by skilled female artisans using traditional weaving techniques, and is made from locally-sourced seagrass that’s covered in macramé to create a cool texture. The twill-lined interior has two slip pockets for organization and the drawstring top keeps everything secure.
Price: Around $115
Main image: Truss NYC