I am not a plastic bag - version 2.0
A year I wrote a post making fun of the global scramble to get one of those Anya Hindmarch's limited edition "I am not a plastic bag" bags. The campaign's intention was entirely laudable, though that stampede it created, like the near riot in a Hong Kong mall for example, was indeed ripe for ridicule. Fast forward to the present day, the reusable bag trend is hotter than ever. More and more stores are giving up bags altogether while others give shoppers an incentive like a discount or coupons to bring your own bags.
I'm in the market for some new bags myself, and found quite a few that are so enticing I simply must share with you here. Just because we've gone eco around here doesn't mean we're stuck with unfashionable hemp bags in the shade of Maoist gray. (Though I've just found that even hemp can be hip now, go figure.)
The first place I looked was Reisenthel, the fabulous German maker of all things to carry other things with. (Can you come up with a better description for them? I certainly couldn't.) They are my favorite, and everything I've bought from them have been practically indestructible. I'm still in love with the basket I got from Frankfurt years ago, though David has taken it over and turned my hip German basket into his foraging basket. What's a girl to do but go shopping anew? Here darling, twist my arm.
Lucky for me, I don't need to hop a flight to Frankfurt--though one to Paris is in my rather immediate future--because Amazon now carries a whole bunch of Reisenthel products.
I'm very tempted to replace my stolen basket with a more psychedelic version of the same model. Very tempted. But then again I'm also quite struck by a tote bag made with the same material. It looks very sturdy and seems to be able to handle a big load of groceries that I somehow end up with no matter how often I go to the stores. It's also quite pretty, don't you think? That tote also comes in a little bit smaller size and in a design that's just a tiny bit less loud (in a smaller size as well). To each his bag, I say.
I also like this one with separate pockets for bottles. Don't you sometimes buy wines and other bottled things? If you're walking more than a few blocks home this might be handy. Then again if you've really got a distance to haul your groceries you might want to consider this baby: it folds into a neat, small-ish package but opens up into a gigantic shopping bag with wheels. French shoppers--chic girls, hot boys, cranky old ladies (and gentlemen) alike--have been marketing with these wheelies for ages. Perhaps it's time we catch up? Our back will thank us.
If you really want a grocery bag that can fold into practically nothing, a small enough package so you can leave one at the bottom of your everyday bag ready for an impromptu market trip? There are two brands I recommend wholeheartedly. They are not Reisenthel, but they are no less cute and arguably more practical for this scenario. The first is made by Baggu, and fold into a small square that fits perfectly in its own neat pouch. The other is made by Flip & Tumble, and rolls into a cute little ball when not in use, which means it doubles as a ball toy to toss around when you are bored. Might come in handy if you think about it. They both have long and wide handle so you can carry them or put them over your shoulder to lessen the load. Nice.
Now, if you think you're home free. Think again. We're not quite done here yet. Do you ever wonder if it's all moot when you bring your own bags to the store and then end up using a whole bunch of plastic bags in the produce isles for salad greens and fruits? What's the alternative though? Not using separate bags for these delicate produce is not exactly a viable choice, since you will likely end up with an accidental purée at the bottom of your nice Reisenthel grocery tote. After looking around a while, I think I've finally found a solution. You can get one of these cotton bags, a mesh one or just a simple lightweight one. They are about the same size as the standard grocery story plastic bags, but instead of being tossed out after one use, you can reuse them and wash them when they get dirty. Fabulous, yes?
Another alternative, Evert-Fresh Bag, is a little high-tech-y. I've bought these bags before from a Japanese grocery store. They're made of plastic, yes, but they are reusable and they have an added value of extending the life of your produce. The idea is pretty simple, the bags absorb ethelyn gas emit by fruits and veggies as they ripen, and in so doing retard the maturing process. Your produce lasts longer, you waste less, and the bags can be reused up to ten times.
Here you go, you're all set for your next visit to the grocery store or, better yet, your local farmers market. Have fun shopping!
P.S. I'm sure you've got your own favorite bags. If there's one I missed or any I simply must know about, please do tell!