Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Kicking the Paper Habit - Part II

Back by popular demand in my inbox, more advice on kicking the paper (and plastic) habit: get your own shopping bags. Many grocery stores, including my local Shop-rite, give you a nickel off every time you use a cloth bag. Several stores make bags available for purchase, but buyer beware. I noticed that a certain chain grocer sells bags that are “manufactured with 100% post-consumer recycled content” and are made in China. Umm….huh? Apparently these things are here for my congreenience(tm). Notice they say manufactured with not from 100% post-consumer recycled content. That means they contain SOME recycled content. More alarming, however, is that we are importing MORE PLASTIC from China in the name of being green. I wonder what executive made that decision? Hello big grocery corporation with your name so neatly stamped on the bottom of your bag, I am paying attention!

Note: I did not buy this bag from A&P. I did purchase it at the thrift shop for a mere quarter.
I have made my own bags from, that’s right FROM, 100% recycled post-consumer waste, that is, other people’s discarded drapes.

These bags are easy to make. Find some old fabric -- old drapes, blankets, and upholstery are very sturdy choices. Now, cut two rectangles of your desired size. This will be the front and back of your bag. I have used lined drapes which make for an extra strong bag and look nicely finished too. Next cut two rectangles, one with the height being the same as the height of your front/back pieces and the width being about 6 or 8 inches. These are your sides. Cut a final rectangle for the bottom that is the width of your front/back and the height being the same as the width of your sides. Now, sew the front and back to the bottom, then sew the sides to the bottom, and sew the sides to the front and backs. Fold down the top, turn it under and sew a hem around it. Then you can attach your handles, just cut a length of fabric, sew it in a tube, turn it inside out and turn under the edges and sew onto your bag however you would like your handles. There you go, a funky shopping bag in 30 minutes or less.

Now if you are not inclined to sew, you can still get good shopping bags at yard sales in thrift shops for less than 50 cents:

For those of you not in the know (and I am counted among you – I looked it up) Wine Spectator is a magazine for exclusive wine connoisseurs. Don’ t you just love the irony! And the little Lands’ End tote pictured here is amazing – it is quite sturdy and holds more cans than any plastic or paper grocery bag ever could. In fact, it can hold four 29 ounce cans of tomato sauce AND six 16 ounce cans of beans.

Lesson Learned? Read the fine print people. Green might be the new black but some shades of green are blacker than they seem.

Hope you are inspired to kick the paper habit one product at a time!

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