in the bag.

February 11, 2009
for the past few days i’ve wanted to write a post about plastic bags. thrilling, i know.
about a year and a half ago, james and i decided in earnest that we would stop using plastic bags. i’d had a stretchy hemp grocery bag that i’d used more or less in college, but let’s just say that i wasn’t very committed to the project in those days. i’d remember the bag usually only if it tripped me on my way out the door. when i was at my parents house (where trips to the grocery store usually involved a car) i would almost never remember to bring along my little sac. even living in france, where they would charge me to use a plastic bag, i would still forget my own more often than not. 
but together james and i have made it our mission never to use a plastic bag to pack our groceries. we bought a few chico bags at our coop to add to the bag that i already had, and set to work. admittedly, in the beginning we would sometimes forget our colorful trio. we would usually remember them on our saturday morning walks to the farmer’s market, but impromptu stops at the grocery store made things a little bit more tricky. and we’ve definitely left stores each of our arms full with cumbersome boxes and bottles. generally though, it’s been easy. we keep our bags on the handle of our kitchen door, and try to take them back out to the car whenever we leave the house.
but we’ve been less vigilant when it comes to bulk groceries. as foolish as it sounds to refuse the use of one type of plastic bag but accept another, we’ve had a hard time thinking of a solution for carting home bulk spinach or salad greens in anything but plastic produce bags. we tried to say we would bring our own tin, and have the cashier weigh it before we filled it up, but that solution never even made it to the scale. last week i came across kootsacs, which i think might solve the dilemma. they’re the same weight as plastic bags, so they won’t add ounces to our bulk purchase, and if we devote them to bulk foods, we don’t have to worry about contaminating our rice or beans with gross-o germs from food that sits on shelves. like all reusable bags, they’re washable, so if we get lettuce slime on them, we can wash it out. i think i’ll give them a shot.
still feeling like you need inspiration to start your own plastic ban? invest in an awesome sustainable tote. bear in mind dmitri siegel’s warning however. his article published on design observer a few days ago is definitely worth a read. efforts to stop the use of plastic bags is definitely a good thing, but ending up with dozens of promotional canvas bags (or bags that you you just don’t use) is just another kind of unnecessary consumption. so choose carefully.
chico bags are made from recycled plastic bottles and at $5.00 a bag for the original and $9.00 for the rePETe, they are among the most affordable. if space is an issue, you can pack them up into teeny-tiny versions of themselves. 
if you have some extra cash (ok, in one case quite a bit extra) and want something a little bit more chic to carry your cucumbers in, here are a few that i like:

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  • Reply Pravina Studio February 17, 2009 at 1:32 am

    Kudos on your lack of plastic bag use! I am honored to have my bags in your lineup of favorites 🙂

  • Reply Erin February 17, 2009 at 1:48 am

    thanks! and thank you for making such lovely bags!

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