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.
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 sea floor 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 easy to shop without plastic if you’re always with your own trusty shopper.
Here, I’ve found 10 chic, eco-friendly plastic bag alternatives you can take to the grocery store and beyond.
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. As the name implies, Love Thy Earth works exclusively with natural fabrics, certified natural dyes and they produce their products in a Fair Trade Certified factory in Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
Price: Around $50
5. Truss NYC
Few shopping totes have the design credentials to be used every day with every outfit, but Truss NYC’s definitely do. Handwoven by Oaxacan Women weavers, this shopper tote helps support Fondo Guadalupe Musalem, a foundation that helps the indigenous women of Oaxaca complete their studies through financial donation and mentorship.
6. Aplat Tote
Shujan Bertrand makes the totes of Aplat Designs to “uplift the daily practice of sharing the good things we cook, eat, drink and gift.” It’s perfect for a trip to the farmers market and your local deli. The Market Tote is made in San Francisco with salvaged raw denim that she sources locally.
The pattern is polka dots and the ethics are fair. Danish designers Bess Nielsen and Jan Machenhauer, intertwine Scandinavian design with the ancient weaving crafts of India to create a tote that can be easily packed away in your handbag, and which helps give female artisans in India a living wage.
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.
Make a positive statement on your next trip to the store! Whether it says Merci, Soleil, Ciao or another upbeat slogan, all the Jackson’s bags are made of strong locally grown jute and woven by the skilful women of the Rishilpi Handicrafts Limited, an NGO set up to fight extreme poverty in Bangladesh and help the women gain access to health and education.
Main image: Truss NYC
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