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Reusable Bags for Every Occasion

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By Kara DiCamillo

At this point, I have many reusable bags that I carry with me to and from the grocery store and keep in the car. Sometimes though, I want a reusable bag that I can take anywhere. So, on the presupposition that some of you might feel the same, I found some stylish new prints, new materials, and environmentally friendly designs that Sierra Club Green Home readers can use on an everyday basis outside of grocery shopping.

Fun green history fact: the reusable shopping bag credited with making the now-ubiquitous canvas totes seem cool was the “I’m Not A Plastic Bag” tote designed in by Anya Hindmarch in 2007. The limited edition totes came in four different colors, and approximately 100,000 customers registered online to try to buy them.

 “It’s big and easy and great for groceries, but will probably be used as a school bag or a gym bag [as well],” Hindmarch wrote on Bag Snob a few years ago. “I use mine everyday as a tote bag bringing stuff from home.”

Since then, we’ve seen tons of cool totes burst onto the scene, including Khmu’s Nature Bag and Recology Totes from upcycled uniforms. Here is the lowdown on three new takes on the classic “not a plastic bag” bag.

BlueAvocado’s Hip Chil messenger bag is versatile and stylish. Its cross body strap makes it comfortable even when lugging books around and– get this– it’s insulated! The Hip Chil is made with 50 percent fibers from recycled plastic bottles and includes a D-ring to hook extra bags to. Plus, it’s machine-washable. Based in Austin, TX, BlueAvocado has eliminated more than 46 million disposable bags from the waste stream and has upcyled an estimated 805,000 plastic bottles through the fabric used in their bags.

Another one of my favorite reusable bag companies is OLovesM, which is based in Aspen, CO. Different from other bags we’ve seen out there, OLovesM bags are made from excess yoga mat material, fabric remnants, and reclaimed sandal strapping. The Merle Tote in particular is not only stylish but extremely durable thanks to the recycled rubber it uses. I envision using this tote for picking up a few things at the market, and then heading straight to the beach for a picnic in the sand. Each OLovesM bag has a story behind it, starting with the fabric, to the person who crafted the bag, to the person who wears it.

Made to order and cruelty-free, Massachusetts-based company Pansy Maiden has an array of bags to choose from, all designed from eco-friendly materials in several different styles. I like the Large Vegan Weekender Tote, personally. Made from organic cotton, the Weekender Tote is roomy with stylish pockets and the adjustable strap allows you to wear it on your shoulder or across your body. Keep an eye out for a limited number of Pansy Maiden cotton canvas print bags coming this spring.

There are stylish, reusable bags out there for everyone. Have you discovered a favorite reusable bag you can’t live without? Tell the Sierra Club Green Home community about it in the comments section!

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